Almost 40 percent of white males and nearly half of black males in the U.S. are arrested by age 23, which greatly affects employment opportunities, education and relationships, according to a new study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.
“Criminal records that show up in searches can impede employment, reduce access to housing, thwart admission to and financing for higher education and affect civic and volunteer activities such as voting or adoption. They also can damage personal and family relationships,” said lead author Robert Brame, Ph.D., a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina.
The study pulled data from a national survey of teenagers and young adults (ages 18-23) from 1997 to 2008. It included their arrest histories, which varied from truancy and underage drinking to more serious and violent offenses. The study did not include any arrests for minor traffic violations.
“A problem is that many males – especially black males – are navigating the transition from youth to adulthood with the baggage and difficulties from contact with the criminal justice system,” Brame said.
The study found that by age 18, 30 percent of black males, 26 percent of Hispanic males and 22 percent of white males have been arrested. By age 23, 49 percent of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested.
For females, the variation between races was hardly noticeable. At age 18, arrest rates were 12 percent for white females and 11.8 percent and 11.9 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively. By age 23, arrest rates were 20 percent for white females and 18 percent and 16 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively.
The study builds on the team’s previous research that was published in the journal Pediatrics in 2012. That study gained national attention for revealing that one in three people were arrested by age 23.
“As a society, we often worry a great deal about the effects of children watching television, eating junk food, playing sports and having access to good schools,” Brame said. “Experiencing formal contact with the criminal justice system could also have powerful effects on behavior and impose substantial constraints on opportunities for America’s youth.”
In addition to Brame, the research team included Shawn Bushway, a criminal justice professor at the University at Albany, Ray Paternoster from the University of Maryland and Michael Turner from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
Source: University at Albany