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RAND study highlights rising arrest rates

Young people in New Jersey and around the country are now being arrested far more often than they were in previous decades according to a study from the RAND Corporation. After scrutinizing data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics gathered over several decades, RAND researchers discovered that adults currently between 26 and 35 years of age were 3.6 times more likely to have an arrest on their records than Americans older than 66.

Rising arrest rates were especially pronounced among women and white men. The rate at which white men are arrested almost tripled during the period studied. Age also emerged as a major factor. While only one in 100 women over the age of 66 were arrested before their 26th birthday, a sobering one in seven of the women who were between the ages of 26 and 35 when the study ended had been taken into custody by police at least once. The study's authors say that more rigorous law enforcement was largely responsible for the increased arrests.

The study suggests that going to college lowers the chances of arrest significantly. Of the men with college degrees studied, less than a quarter had been arrested. However, that figure soared to 60 percent among men who failed to graduate from high school. Income also appears to play a major role. Those with one arrest earned an average of $6,000 per year less than individuals with no criminal record, and those with two or more arrests earned approximately $13,000 less.

The overwhelming majority of the arrests studied by RAND researchers were resolved through plea agreements. During these negotiations, experienced criminal defense attorneys could mention mitigating factors to prosecutors in order to secure more lenient treatment for their clients. Examples often include a troubled upbringing, sincere remorse and the support of family members and friends.

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