More Than 30 Percent Of Americans Arrested By Age 23, Study Says

Dec 19, 2011
Originally published on December 19, 2011 9:02 am

There's been a sharp increase in recent decades in the number of young Americans who report they've been arrested at least once, researchers report in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While in the mid-1960s about 22 percent of Americans reported having been arrested by the time they turned 23, researchers estimate that the "prevalence rate" for arrests by that age now lies "between 30.2 percent and 41.4 percent."

Increasingly, "arrest is a pretty common experience," Robert Brame, a criminologist at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and one of the study's authors, tells USA Today.

According to ABC News, "Brame and his colleagues analyzed responses to a national survey of more than 7,000 young people between 1997 and 2008. ... Not all of the young people remained in the study for all 11 years, accounting for the uncertainty reflected in the wide ranges of the study's findings.

Time magazine's Healthland blog says that:

"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. ... 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. ...

"The study captured arrests for all offenses other than traffic violations, including underage drinking, shoplifting, truancy, robbery, assault and murder. Most teens who are arrested are cited for minor infractions and don't end up imprisoned."

Time adds that the researchers "have not completed an analysis of the data by race, but prior studies suggest that minorities are arrested more frequently than whites."

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