By Age 23, More than 40% of American Males have been Arrested Regardless of Race

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The United States’ habit of arresting criminals has not only resulted in the world’s largest prison population, but also this: more than 40% of all men in the country are arrested by their early twenties.


This eye-opening statistic includes not just blacks and Hispanics, two groups that have endured well-documented high arrest rates, but whites as well.


The finding was produced by academics who combed through about a decade’s worth (1997-2008) of surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which asks respondents if they have ever been taken into custody for an offense (excluding traffic violations).


It was found that 38% of white men, 44% of Hispanic men and 49% of black men wind up in jail at least once by age 23.


By age 18, the numbers were lower, but still startling: 30% for black men, 26% for Hispanic men and 22% for white men.


The researchers also compiled statistics for women. By age 23, 20% of blacks, 18% of whites and 16% of Hispanics were arrested at least once.


“Among criminologists, I don't think they're that surprised or alarmed by the findings,” Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and study (pdf) coauthor, told the Associated Press. “The alarm and concern is among people not as familiar with the patterns.”


Another coauthor, criminologist Shawn Bushway from the University at Albany, said that with so many Americans involved in the criminal justice system at such an early age, it would be “a serious mistake” for the nation to treat “them all as if they're hardened criminals.”


Brame said more research is being conducted on the types of arrests, as well as conviction and recidivism rates, with those results still to come.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Nearly Half of Black Men Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds (by Jack Pearson, Associated Press)

Demographic Patterns of Cumulative Arrest Prevalence by Ages 18 and 23 (by Robert Brame, Shawn D. Bushway, Ray Paternoster and Michael G. Turner, Crime & Delinquency) (pdf)

One Third of Young Americans Arrested by Age 23…Is Drug Crackdown to Blame? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


anonamouse 8 years ago
Would have been nice to see a breakdown of arrest categories. I suspect most of these arrests were drug-use or drug-economy related. Statistically, both violent crime and property crime --- that is to say, crimes with ACTUAL victims --- have been falling in the US since at least the early '80s. End the self-inflicted wound that is Prohibition (which is really just a shameful persistence of Richard Nixon's war on the anti-war youth culture) and "crime" would return to levels that could be considered "normal" for a nation of our size and demographics.

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