The crime rate in the United States has been steadily declining over the past several decades, but the number of people arrested is going up. A study by the RAND Corporation says the increase in enforcement efforts mostly hits people 26 to 35 years old.

The study shows people in that age group are nearly four times more likely to be arrested by the time they turn 26 than those 66 and older. For men it’s even higher, as nearly a third of those 26 to 35 had been arrested by age 26, nearly three times the rate of those over 65.

The trend is age-based but follows racial disparities

The RAND study says the rise in arrests affects all Americans in the younger age group, whether they are men or women, black or white. However, nearly a third of all black men are arrested by the time they turn 26, compared to 23% for white males. The survey lists the percentage of the U.S. population arrested at least once by the time they turn 26 according to their birth years:

  • 4%: Born before 1949
  • 7%: Born 1949 to 1958
  • 8%: Born 1959 to 1968
  • 7%: Born 1969 to 1978
  • 23%: Born 1979 to 1988

Crime statistics and public perception widely differ

The Pew Research Center says nearly 60% of Americans believe there was more crime in the U.S. in 2018 than the year before. However, FBI statistics show violent crimes have declined by more than half since 1993, and property crimes have dropped by 54%.

The RAND study’s author says the increase may be explained by a substantial increase in arrests over crimes many consider less serious, such as underage drinking, assault, theft and robbery but especially a significant rise in drug arrests, which disproportionately affect young black men.

Arrests have long-term consequences for many

The National Reentry Resource Center says a person arrested at least once by age 26 has, on average, $5,000 less in yearly earnings, and $8,000 if they have been arrested multiple times. Having a criminal record dramatically reduces a person’s chance of employment, especially if they have been convicted. If you are charged with a crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney here in South Carolina will protect your rights.