This can hurt their ability to find work, go to school
and participate in their communities, researchers said.
The study provides the first contemporary findings on how the risk of arrest varies across race and gender, said Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study.
The study is an analysis of national survey data from 1997 to 2008 of teenagers and young adults, aged 18, and their arrest histories, which run the gamut from truancy and underage drinking to more serious and violent offences. The study excludes arrests for minor traffic violations.
Most striking are the race differences revealed in the study, Brame said. In particular, the research points to a higher prevalence of arrest among black males and little race variation in arrest rates among females.
“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 said.
The negative impacts can be great, he said. “States vary on the age that adolescents are considered adults in the eyes of the criminal law, some as young as age 16 and 17,” he said.
Shawn Bushway, a criminal justice professor at the
University at Albany who collaborated with Brame on the study, said they used data from the US Department of Labour’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort (NLYS97).
The study’s key findings include: By age 18, 30 per cent of black males, 26 per cent of Hispanic males and 22 per cent of white males have been arrested.
By age 23, 49 per cent of black males, 44 per cent of Hispanic males and 38 per cent of white males have been arrested, the study found.
While the prevalence of arrest increased for females from age 18 to 23, the variation between races was slight. At age 18, arrest rates were 12 per cent for white females and 11.8 per cent and 11.9 per cent for Hispanic and black females, respectively, the research found.
By age 23, arrest rates were 20 per cent for white females and 18 per cent and 16 per cent for Hispanic and black females, respectively.
The study was published in the journal Crime and Delinquency.