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Mortgaged Futures: 30% of Juveniles Arrested

By the time they’re 23 years old, between 30 and 41 percent of Americans have been arrested, according to a study recently released by the journal Pediatrics.  This number has sharply increased in recent decades; in the mid-1960s, only 22 percent of Americans reported having been arrested by the time they turned 23.

Even though this data seems shocking, the study’s author, Professor Robert Brame of the University of North Carolina, is “not terribly surprised” by it.  Why should he be?  Americans incarcerate an enormous proportion of our population – today, nearly one in 32 Americans are under correctional supervision.  We impose harsh penalties for non-violent crimes. 

The increasingly punitive nature of our society is especially evident among young people.  Our schools are routinely staffed by police officers with authority to interrogate, search, and arrest students.  Many public schools have adopted “zero tolerance” policies, treating minor infractions as criminal offenses.  In one extreme but illustrative example, a 13-year-old New Mexico student was arrested for “interfering with public education” after he “burped audibly” in class.

Juvenile arrest is now common.  What’s really shocking is the way contact with the criminal justice system continues to haunt young people long after arrest, conviction, or incarceration.  The study in Pediatrics noted that youth with arrest records have lower levels of earnings, longer bouts with unemployment, greater work instability, diminished educational levels, and a greater risk of destructive family conflicts.  The study’s authors concluded that “there is a risk that the collateral social and personal damage created by an arrest mortgages the futures of young people as they make the transition to adulthood.”

The ACLU of Washington opposes policies that deny young people opportunities solely on the basis of juvenile records.  As the ACLU-WA Equal Justice Works Fellow, I am representing young people trying to seal juvenile records, and am challenging employers’ policies of denying jobs to all juvenile ex-offenders.

There is also some hope on the horizon for all Washington youth.  Last session, with ACLU-WA support, the legislature passed a bill making it illegal for consumer reporting agencies to report juvenile records after an individual has turned 21.  A legislative task force is still working on implementing the bill.  With juvenile arrest rates so high, such changes are vital to limit the damage that juvenile records can cause.

You can get more information about the report on juvenile arrest rates in this article about the study on


My Grandson was yanked out of our home, by police officers.

This child who had just turned 13 years old the day before, got a phone call and was made to believe he accidently called 911, the Kelso Police arrived at our home and pulled him outside and arrested him on an 8 month old warrant for truancy. This child is attending WAVA K12 online home schooling, mainly due to his severe ADHD, hearing voices and having severe panic attacks! At this time Christmas eve, he is suffering terribly and they put him in solitary confinement because of his mental state and he developed strept throat. He has never commited a crime, and has never spent the night away from home. I feel so sorry for him, and can do nothing to help him, because in our town if you are poor, you have no rights! Earlier this month taskforce raided our home and forced the three little children to watch as they hit their father with a gun, knock him to the floor, while i screamed,:PLEASE LET THE BABIES COME HERE WITH ME, PLEASE DONT MAKE THEM WATCH. I heard the head of Taskforce yell NO, they are going to stay right here and watch, I heard my little Granddaughters crying, PLEASE DONT KILL OUR DADDY PLEASE!! They were forced to watch this. Dad is an addict, and he is wrong, but all these little ones were guilty of is loving there daddy. My heart aches that the ones who are supposed to protect the innocent are destroying them with this kind of abuse. I feel what they are doing to my Grandson, is limked to this taskforce gang. How do these men sleep hearring the cries of these children. After this my Grandson whom they took to Juvenille, started having the severe panic attacks, he said he felt bad cause he couldnt help his little sisters. They would not let me out of a front bedroom. They recovered no drugs in the house, and only 3,000.00, 800.00 which was mine from a loan from my credit union i had gotton earlier that day!!!! As I write this i fear for my sons and my life at the hands of these Police. Please, can someone help me we are so scared and live in fear everyday and night!!1 Also, it took 13 taskforce agents to take down an old gramma, 3 small kids 7, 9, and 12 and my son with his arms in the air! He did not resist arrest in anyway. the children said they had 8 guns to his head, thats why they screamed, they felt they were going to kill daddy!!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME

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