UPDATE (1/22/2014): Ivory A. Toldson, editor of the Journal of Negro Education, published a critique at The Root about the study cited in this post. Among his concerns: The researchers rely on a tiny sample size of American youth to determine arrest rate, when larger data sets are available. Their data is taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which primarily looks at youth employment, not arrests. The researchers use statistical extrapolations to account for participants targeted for the survey in 1997, but could not be reached in later years, meaning “black males could be guilty by association even in a data set.” The researchers do not list the survey questions anywhere in the study, meaning it cannot be replicated.

I encourage you to read his full critique, here.


About 49 percent of black men are arrested for non-traffic offenses by the time they turn twenty-three, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

That’s compared with 45 percent of Hispanic men and 38 percent of white men who reported arrests by the same age.

The study notes that an early arrest, “even if it results in an acquittal,” often haunts the arrestee for the rest of their lives. The authors explain:

There is substantial research showing that arrested youth are not only more likely to experience immediate negative consequences such as contact with the justice system, school failure and dropout, and family difficulties, but these problems are likely to reverberate long down the life course in terms of additional arrests, job instability, lower wages, longer bouts with unemployment, more relationship troubles, and long-term health problems including premature death.

The authors analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997—a Department of Labor survey consisting of interviews with about 7,000 American youths from 1997 to 2008.