When we are young, many of us are taught that we can do anything and be anyone we want to be. But imagine starting your adult life with a strike against you because of a juvenile arrest. How many opportunities would be lost? How many lives will be a struggle because of a mistake or bad decision someone made as a kid?
That is the very real situation that many men and women are facing in the U.S. today, according to a recent report. Statistically, thousands of people are entering adulthood with an arrest on their record and unfortunate experience with the criminal justice system. The challenges that these young people may face throughout their lives can be significant, and the toll it may be taking on families in New York and nationwide cannot be overstated.
According to the report, there are a huge number of people who have been arrested for a variety of offenses by the time they are 23 years of age. The study looked at arrest statistics from 1997 through 2008 involving black, Hispanic, and white men and women. The results were surprising and suggest that 49 percent of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested before the age of 23. For women, those rates were much lower but still troubling. About 20 percent of white females, 18 percent of Hispanic females, and 16 percent of black females were arrested by 23 during that time period.
It can be easy to look at these statistics and just see a bunch of numbers. However, each person that is arrested at a young age faces a unique and difficult set of obstacles and challenges as they try to grow and mature into upstanding members of a community.
People should remember, however, that an arrest is not a conviction. A person who is arrested does not necessarily end up facing criminal charges or having a conviction on their record. But that is why it can be crucial to take every arrest seriously. With the help of an attorney, young people can defend themselves in an effort to avoid criminal penalties and keep an arrest from doing long-term damage to their lives.