News & Politics

New Study: Half of Black Males and 40 Percent of White Males Arrested by Age 23

Why are so many of America's youth spending time behind bars?

In a study published this week in the Crime & Delinquencyjournal, a large number of American men are said to have already been arrested by the time they’re in their early 20s. For African-Americans, 49 percent have been arrested by teh time they are 23. For white males, the number is 40 percent. 

According to a press release issued along with the study, getting arrested at such a young age, and marking your record considerably early, “can hurt [one’s] ability to find work, go to school and participate fully in their communities.” 

By age 18, the study found that 30 precent of black males, 26 percent of Hispanic males and 22 percent of white males have already been arrested. By 23, the number doubles almost 20 percent for every race. The research was based on an analysis of national survey data from 1997 to 2008, focusing on teenagers and young adults. The arrests were for a range of alleged crimes and misdemeanors, from truancy to serious violent crimes. 

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“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,” University of South Carolina Criminology professor Robert Brame, an author of the study said. “Experiencing formal contact with the criminal justice system could also have a powerful effect on behavior and impose substantial constraints on opportunities for America’s youth.” 


Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.