A growing number of people in Texas and across the country are being exposed to the criminal justice system at an earlier age, researchers found while examining national data. According to the report by the RAND Corporation, younger Americans are 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested as a youth than older Americans. The researchers noted that this large disparity was found when comparing arrest rates before the age of 26 for people 26 to 35 years of age and those over 66. They also noted that the increase in arrest rates may be linked to lower wages, less access to work and lower likelihood of marriage.
The researchers found that white males saw some of the largest increases in arrest rates. While black young men had long been subject to high arrest rates, statistics are showing greater parity over time across racial lines. However, rather than reaching this outcome through a reduction in the arrest rate of black men, it is being reached because more white young people are being arrested. Still, black men were 10 percent more likely than white men to have been arrested by the age of 26.
The researchers said that these statistics were almost certainly due to an increased law enforcement presence rather than an increase in crime. Criminalization and police intervention are increasingly used as attempted solutions to social problems. However, these may create more significant social problems over time, as increased arrests are strongly correlated with continuing lower access to education and work over the lifespan.
People who are facing criminal charges could be hit with serious consequences, including jail or prison time, heavy fines and a record that could prevent future access to housing, education or certain jobs. A criminal defense lawyer can help challenge police and prosecution narratives before trial and in court.