The Penal State: New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Have Been Arrested For A Crime By Age 23

I have previously written and blogged on the criminalization of the American society. Now a study in the journal Pediatrics this week finds that, by age 23, almost a third of Americans have been arrested for a crime.

The researchers found that 30.2 percent of the 23-year-olds looked at by the study had been arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation. The prior study in 1965 showed a 22 percent rate for prior arrests — a significant increase that, in my view, seems to confirm the impact on the criminalization of our society.

We currently have the world’s highest rate of incarceration, currently 738 per 100,000. We seem to be moving toward a correctional economy where a significant part of our population is in the business of charging, convicting, and imprisoning another significant part of our population. The question is how this little discussed trend will change our society and our citizens.

Source: NY Times

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22 thoughts on “The Penal State: New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Have Been Arrested For A Crime By Age 23”

  1. from
    found via a random google based on previous knowledge.. ( ref: links at site)

    When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade (Arizona Republic (9-15-2004)). Evidence shows that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, or go to prison. So many nonreaders wind up in jail that Arizona officials have found they can use the rate of illiteracy to help calculate future prison needs (Wonder of Reading).

    In California “if the child isn’t reading on 4th grade level when tested they will plan to budget building another jail cell. “Based on this year’s fourth-grade reading scores,” observes Paul Schwartz, a Coalition “Principal in Residence” at the U. S. Department of Education, said “California is already planning the number of new prison cells it will need in the next century.” from Democracy and Equity: CES’s Tenth Common Principle 1998 by Kathleen Cushman

    Dr. Lynell Burmark, MultiMedia Schools January/February 2001: “The reality is that, in California at least, if you don’t know how to read by the end of fourth grade, the state is building you a prison cell.”


    but there is no further effort put into tutoring children.. I guess privatized prisons need ‘work’ too..

    I like the authors conclusion..

    “So, the moral of this story is that mentoring and tutoring kids (especially in reading) can directly lead to a decrease in crime over time. ”

    Looks as though we are forced to conclude the powers-that-be desire crime to grow.. Who is it that feels ‘privatization’ is ‘good’? Look to the money..

  2. According to the U.S. Census bureau, 12.6 % of Americans are black, and 16.3 % are Hispanic, for a total of 28.9%. So, the 30.2 % figure quoted in the study seems a little bit high.

    I suppose it is possible that some white youths were arrested by accident, and that might make up the shortfall, but we shouldn’t let that sour our praises for the police departments across the land, who are doing their best to fill our prison cells with the right sort of folks, eg, young black and Hispanic pot smokers.

  3. This is typical of a totalitarian, tyrannical police state. As the government makes more and more stuff illegal, cracks down on dissent, free speech, and enforcement, legislature, and judicial systems act unlawfully, the more people are arrested regardless of the lawfullness of their actions, legislation, ordinances and statutes.

  4. Despite agreeing on the criminalizing of the trivial, a few things are missed here. Now as in the past, the vast majority of persons who encounter law enforcement as juveniles never have contact as adults, except perhaps for a speeding ticket. Only one past study is cited which used different, unspecified methods–it’s unclear whether the recent study may have over or under estimated arrests relative to the earlier one. Journos seem allergic to addressing these elementary questions, even though a call to the researcher might clear up matters. In other words, there may be less here than meets the eye…..

  5. Names and classifications of associates…..Hmmmm…Hitler…learned us well…

  6. damn, all this time i thought i was special.

    i am the 33%

    (doesn’t have quite the same ring)

  7. It seems to me that the more things you make criminal; the more criminals you will have.

    if we removed from the books every law that make a criminal action out of a personal choice we could decrease the number of criminals signifigantly.

    Instead of prosecuting people who commit crime; we have turned any action that could possibly cause a person to commit a crime; into a crime itself.

    If we amend the laws to include only actions that directly infringe on the rights of another; our list would be short and realatively easy to understand and enforce.

    As an example: it is illegal to take Heroin. Supposedly if we stop Heroin use; it will reduce violent crime to get money for Heroin.

    But where is the crime. Using heroin (I don’t) is a personal choice. If you go home today and take some; the only person at risk is you.

    This should in no way be considered a crime.

    If you then however go out and mug someone to get money for that Heroin; you have now committed a crime because you have infringed upon another persons rights.

    There are other good reasons to do away with drug prohibition but they all involve the Governments use of the fear of the substance to allow them to manipulate the people and incarcerate untold thousands of harmless citizens to populate their Slave Labor Camps(Prisons).

    Only when the people see that they have less to fear from Heroin and other substances than they do from the Government that demonises them will we be able to stop the tens of billions of dollars flowing into a drug enforcement system riddled with corruption and failing to signifigantly reduce the amount of available product in this country.

    What is the answer? Well; it isn’t what we have now. All that does is provide job security for a bunch of cops who are unable; through no real fault of there own; to successfully carry out their assignment and are now just treading water to keep the paycheck coming in. (No offence. Who wouldn’t?) Especially as the people who pay them have provided such an easy and elaborate web of deceit in order to deceive the public into believing they are having success ……in order to keep their paychecks coming and it’s all about the money.

    But; as I say; this is just an example. The Codes are just chocked full of juicy examples of laws made to benefit individuals or Corporations, laws that prevent you from excersisng your rights as a human, laws that severely restrict or do away with practices and or items that in themselves present no threat or only to the individual involved yet are banned for some imagined public threat or to benefit some group of Government employees.

    And we have set up such a huge beaurocracy to handle the work of Criminal “Justice” (much of it un-needed) and other functions (many unnecessary) that if we propose changing it, those same government employees; members of the 99%; feel as threatened by the cure as they feel strapped by the disease.

    And so; in this way; they have turned the people upon themselves while secretly taking away the very power that would allow the people to effect a cure.

    By the time the infighting is done; it could well be too late.

  8. How soon will it be when the real unemployment figures reach the 30% level? We know that the “official” figures are way low due to only counting the people who actually receive unemployment benefits, and not including those whose benefits have run out, or don’t qualify for them. Even a conservative estimate of the real figures being double the “official” figures we are closer to 20% than not. When having a misdemeanor or felony on your record makes your employment application an automatic toss into file 13, having 1/3 of Americans ineligible for gainful, legitimate employment can only lead to increased violent crime and civil war. Will laws making it a crime to be poor soon come to pass? It’s already a crime in many areas to be homeless. What are we as a society to do? Stop making our citizens criminals, stop allowing employers to discriminate based on “criminal” histories and credit ratings. Whats the worst that could happen? More people working? Less violent crime? Less social unrest? More children out of the poverty cycle?

  9. Opinion
    Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?

    Published: December 17, 2011

    “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.”

  10. It sounds like our country’s youth, as a class, is being terrorized by the state. Mike’s phrase “a penal state” is apt. It also limits the ability to vote and the job prospects for a significant number of young people, mostly male no doubt. It sounds like a good way to maintain the status quo for those that have already gotten theirs.

  11. Rafflaw: …”when I was 19 for allegedly violating a city ordinance that stated it was illegal to be in a group of more than 2 people!”

    Kids that live in cities like that need to be instructed by their parents that if they are ever in a group of three or more and the cops roll up start chanting “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Mayor (fill in the blank) Has Got To Go!”

    Tell them you were protesting, turn it into a federal case and sue the city. 🙂

    Sorry to hear you grew up in such a hateful city.

  12. Best advice I ever got from my Civil rights protest instructor … “Always have an exit route planned before going in and if you have to use it, run like hell and don’t look back.”

  13. Not that long ago the police were trained to make decisions and the military to take orders. We now see a sort of merge of the disciplines. There was a time a youth caught throwing rocks might get a talking to and delivered to their parents. Now out of fear of accusations of racial, socioeconomic or some other charge of discrimination, all cases are treated the same. The person that just needed attention now has a record.

  14. I also will echo what MIke said. I can attest to the accuracy of the figures since I was arrested when I was 19 for allegedly violating a city ordinance that stated it was illegal to be in a group of more than 2 people! Just imagine what would have happened if I had been smoking illegal substances. I might still be in jail.

  15. We have become a Penal State and not only do we lead the world in imprisonment, but that our closest competitor is Russia and their rate is significantly smaller. I don’t believe this rise has occurred because of a rise in lawlessess, but because of the “War on Drugs” and the judging of LEO’s by their arrest records.

  16. I came across this also:

    “Study: Arrests more prevalent among youth
    Sunday, December 18th, 2011
    Nearly one in three people will be arrested by the time they are 23, a study published Monday in Pediatrics found.

    “Arrest is a pretty common experience,” says Robert Brame, a criminologist at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and principal author of the study.

    The new data show a sharp increase from a previous study that stunned the American public when it was published 44 years ago by criminologist Ron Christensen. That study found 22% of youth would be arrested by age 23. The latest study finds 30.2% of young people will be arrested by age 23.”

  17. Sigh, I had a very salient, non-inflammatory, non-spam, non-defamatory, non-blogwhoring post eaten by the spam filter (I guess). If someone could rescue it, I would be grateful.

    WordPress sucks so bad.

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