Half of black males in U.S. arrested by age 23, study finds

CHARLESTON, South Carolina Wed Jan 8, 2014 4:06pm EST

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Almost half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males are arrested in the United States by the time they are 23 years old, according to a study released this week.

In findings published in the journal Crime & Delinquency, researchers at several universities studied a representative sample of 7,335 people who reported that they'd been arrested at a young age, said Robert Brame, criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that more black and Hispanic men had been arrested as youths than white men for something other than a minor traffic violation. More men than women had been arrested by the time they are 23 years old.

By the time they reached 18 years old, 30 percent of black and 26 percent of Hispanic males compared to 22 percent of white males had been arrested.

By the time they reached 23 years old, 49 percent of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males, and 38 percent of white males had been arrested for something other than a minor traffic violation.

Arrest rates among girls and women were about the same for white, Hispanic and black women, the study found.

The negative impacts of arrest include difficulty in gaining employment, housing, admission to college and university and financing for higher education, Brame said. An arrest record also affects civic rights and privileges such as voting or adoption and can damage personal relationships, he said.

"Arrest is public information. The consequences are severe and get more severe when they turn into a conviction," he said. "As a society, we need to think about the consequences of arresting somebody when they're young. I think we underestimate the baggage this creates for people when they're making the transition from adolescent to adult."

In 2010, the team began researching what fraction of the U.S. population has been arrested, using national survey data from 1997-2008 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year, the researchers reported that one-third of Americans had been arrested by age 23.

"Nobody had really looked at this question since the 1960s," Brame said.

"Higher arrest records as time goes on are partly due to the presence of police officers in schools and greater likelihood that crimes such as domestic violence are reported more than they were in the past, Brame said.

"A school-to-prison pipeline means that with officers in schools there are more arrests in and around school property for lots of minor offenses," he said. "There is a tendency to police things in the schools that maybe would have been handled informally in the past."


Next, researchers will look at what crimes young people are arrested for, how often arrest turned into conviction and how many re-arrests and re-convictions the study group had, Brame said.

They'll also look at whether there are race differences in the types of offenses that lead to arrest and whether there's a race bias in conviction rates, he said.

(Editing by David Adams and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (14)
BVWT wrote:
Reuters – This article is way below your standard of reporting. The headline clearly makes it out that half of ALL black males and 40% of ALL white males in the US are arrested before the age of 23, when in fact “a representative sample of 7,335 people who reported that they’d been arrested at a young age” is the real population of this study.

Pimping the headlines for readership huh?

Jan 08, 2014 4:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CarpeDiem2000 wrote:
This article is a prime example of the LOW bar in basic STEM education and prep possessed by current “journalists”, especially the in vogue blog “journalists”. Failure to understand and communicate the study’s actual findings – that AMONG black males that HAVE BEEN arrested, for 49% of them the arrest occurred by or before the age of 23. And, instead, actually publishing the inflammatory and DEFECTIVE interpretation that almost half of black males have been arrested by time they’ve reach age 23 demonstrates Harris McLeod’s incompetence and her editor’s incompetence at their respective jobs. This is clearly a reinforcing and educational example of why Reuters will never be the news source of record. Shame on you!

Jan 08, 2014 8:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SallyOMally wrote:
This article is TERRIBLE, it took 1 idiot to write it and 2 to oversee?

I’m unsure whether the author is deliberately misrepresenting the data or not.

Anyway, to clear it up, 50% of PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED black men were arrested by the time they were 23. 40% of PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED white men were arrested by the time they were 23.

That is a world away from 50% of all black men.

So, in case it is still unclear, the article is saying 50% of all black men have been arrested, this is untrue.

I mean, for goodness sakes how busy would the police have to be to have arrested over 40% of the male population!!?

For shame reuters.

Jan 08, 2014 11:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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