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Tougher policing leads to surge in young arrests

A study released recently by the RAND Corporation reveals that the number of young people arrested has surged in recent years, and the researchers behind the study say that more aggressive techniques adopted by law enforcement agencies in North Carolina and around the country are largely responsible. The nonprofit think tank observed a rise in arrests among all demographic groups over the last three decades with particularly steep increases among women and white men.

After studying data on thousands of families compiled by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics over several decades, the researchers concluded that an American currently between the ages of 26 and 35 is about 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested than an American over 66 years of age. The study also reveals that the rate at which white men are arrested has almost tripled in just a few decades, and the chances of a woman being arrested before reaching the age of 26 has risen from about 1 percent to more than 14 percent.

A deeper analysis of the data suggests that earning a college degree and securing a well-paying job makes arrest far less likely. Fewer than one in four male college graduates have been taken into custody by police, but that figure rises to six out of 10 among men without a high school diploma. The data reveals that individuals with one arrest earn about $6,000 less each year then those with no criminal history, and that income gap more than doubles among people who have been arrested more than once.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys might remind prosecutors of the long-term consequences of a criminal record during plea negotiations, and they may cite the findings of studies such as this one while advocating for their clients to be treated more leniently. Prosecutors may find these arguments compelling when they are backed up by mitigating factors such as sincere regret and a supportive family.

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