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A MAJOR NEW study in the US has found that half of black American men have been arrested at least once by their 23rd birthday.
The study, printed in Crime & Delinquency, a peer-reviewed American journal, shows that the likelihood of arrest varies across races.
Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study, says that the most striking differences are across racial divides.
In particular, the research points to a higher prevalence of arrest among black males and little race variation in arrest rates among females. The study excludes 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 says.
The study’s key findings include:
- 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.
- 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.
Brame says that it is important to understand the social climate that influences arrests and what role race plays.
“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 says.
“Experiencing formal contact with the criminal justice system could also have powerful effects on behaviour and impose substantial constraints on opportunities for America’s youth.
Going forward it will be constructive to support systematic studies into the sources of these variations and to continue efforts to understand the effects of criminal justice interventions on sanctions on future behaviour.