Jeffrey E. Johnston

Arrest rates increasing sharply among all demographic groups

A report published in the academic peer-reviewed journal Crime & Delinquency suggests that a sharp rise in the number of young people taken into custody in Georgia and around the country is the result of more rigorous law enforcement. Researchers from the RAND Corporation reached this conclusion after studying data on thousands of American households that was collected over several decades by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

The California-based nonprofit think tank observed a sharp rise in arrests in every demographic group they looked at with the most noticeable increases among women and white men. An American under the age of 36 is now about 2.6 times more likely to have been arrested at least once than an individual of retirement age. The study also reveals that white men are now being arrested at almost three times the rate they were just a few decades ago and the chances of a woman being taken into custody before reaching her 26th birthday have risen from around 1 percent to almost 15 percent.

Earning a college degree and securing a well-paying job appear to reduce the chances of arrest considerably. Only 40 percent of men without a high school diploma have no criminal record, but that figure rises to more than 75 percent among male college graduates. Individuals with one arrest earn about $6,000 less per year than people who have never been arrested, and those who have been taken into custody on multiple occasions earn an average of $13,000 per year less.

Many young people are arrested for nonviolent drug offenses. When representing this type of offender, criminal defense lawyers may encourage prosecutors to consider leniency by bringing mitigating circumstances to their attention, such as the support of family members and gainful employment.

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Jeffrey E. Johnston

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