Nearly One-Third Of Youth Arrested By Age 23

This is a shocking statistic. Nearly a third of young people arrested by age 23? Either something is wrong with our laws or with law enforcement. Via New York Times: By age 23, almost a third of Americans have been arrested for a crime,

This is a shocking statistic. Nearly a third of young people arrested by age 23? Either something is wrong with our laws or with law enforcement.

Via New York Times:

By age 23, almost a third of Americans have been arrested for a crime, according to a new study that researchers say is a measure of growing exposure to the criminal justice system in everyday life.

The study, the first since the 1960s to look at the arrest histories of a national sample of adolescents and young adults over time, found that 30.2 percent of the 23-year-olds who participated reported having been arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation.

That figure is significantly higher than the 22 percent found in a 1965 study that examined the same issue using different methods. The increase may be a reflection of the justice system becoming more punitive and more aggressive in its reach during the last half-century, the researchers said. Arrests for drug-related offenses, for example, have become far more common, as have zero-tolerance policies in schools.

Thirty percent. Nearly one in three. Something is not right, and while this study did not look at racial breakdowns, it's likely the percentage is far higher among minority and poverty-stricken populations. Nick Peart, a young African American student at a New York community college, wrote a heartbreaking column for the New York Times Saturday asking why the NYPD was after him. He says police target black and Latino youth.

Here are a few other facts: last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos. Police are far more likely to use force when stopping blacks or Latinos than whites. In half the stops police cite the vague “furtive movements” as the reason for the stop. Maybe black and brown people just look more furtive, whatever that means. These stops are part of a larger, more widespread problem — a racially discriminatory system of stop-and-frisk in the N.Y.P.D. The police use the excuse that they’re fighting crime to continue the practice, but no one has ever actually proved that it reduces crime or makes the city safer. Those of us who live in the neighborhoods where stop-and-frisks are a basic fact of daily life don’t feel safer as a result.

We need change. When I was young I thought cops were cool. They had a respectable and honorable job to keep people safe and fight crime. Now, I think their tactics are unfair and they abuse their authority. The police should consider the consequences of a generation of young people who want nothing to do with them — distrust, alienation and more crime.

What is happening here?

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