Study: 1 in 3 Americans Arrested By Age 23

By age 23, at least a quarter of all youth in the U.S. — and perhaps as many as 41% — are arrested at least once for something more serious than a traffic violation, according to a new study of American teens. The study is the first since the 1960s to try to determine the percentage of youth who are arrested. Previously, the research estimated that 22% of Americans had been arrested at least once for a non-traffic violation by age 23. “We say in the paper that we think the real figure is on the order of 1 in 3,” says Robert Brame, lead author of the new study and a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The broad range in the estimate found by Brame and his team — from 25.3% to 41.4% — is due to missing data. The researchers used 1997-2008 data from the National Survey of Youth, which included more than 7,000 teens, but some didn’t have data from some of the years. Researchers have not completed an analysis of the data by race, but prior studies suggest that minorities are arrested more frequently than whites. Previous research finds, for example, that black youth are arrested at double the rate of white youth for drug crimes, even though a larger proportion of white youth actually use and sell drugs. MORE: How to Find the Best Drug Treatment for Teens: A Guide for Parents Although it may seem shocking that at least one-third of U.S. youth has an arrest record, those who study juvenile crime don’t find the figure to be out of line. Since the 1970s, America has become much tougher on crime, lengthening sentences, increasing the police force and quintupling the number of people incarcerated. During that time, the number of Americans in prison has gone from half a million to 2.3 million, with approximately 93,000 incarcerated youth. Given the changes in the criminal justice system, some increase in youth arrests was to be expected. “As … Continue reading Study: 1 in 3 Americans Arrested By Age 23