Half of all Black males in the United States have been behind bars by age 23, according to a new study published by academic journal Crime And Delinquency.
Analyzing data from 1997 through 2008, the study found that 30 percent of Black men have experienced at least one arrest by age 18, while 22 percent of White males that age have been arrested.
The number rose to 49 percent of Black men by age 23, with White males coming in at 38 percent.
And according to the U.S. Census, Blacks only make up 13.1 percent of the population while Whites make up 77.9 percent.
The rates shift when analyzing White and Black females: At age 18, 12 percent of White females have experienced arrest. That number was 11.9 percent for Black females and 11.8 for Hispanic females. By age 23, 20 percent of White females, 18 percent of Hispanic females, and 16 percent of Black females have been incarcerated.
The high arrest rate among Black males can haunt them for years to come, said Robert Brame, a Criminology professor at the University Of South Carolina who lead the study.
“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.
“Criminal records that show up in searches can impede employment, reduce access to housing, thwart admission to and financing for higher education, and affect civic and volunteer activities such as voting or adoption. They also can damage personal and family relationships.”
Researchers behind the study want to use the data to examine how race and gender affect arrest rates among youth.