How even a casual brush with the law can permanently mar a young man’s life — especially if he’s Black
Gary Painter, University of Southern California
George Floyd’s death highlighted how even a minor alleged infraction — in his case, over a fake $20 bill — can lead to a fatal interaction with law enforcement.
As a result, a coalition of advocacy organizations, criminal justice reform advocates and everyday citizens have called for cities to take a wide range of actions to reduce the power and authority of local police departments.
But loss of life isn’t the only potential consequence of a brush with the law. Even a single arrest, without conviction, can be devastating to the rest of a young man’s life — especially if he’s Black — particularly in terms of employment and earnings. And African American men are much more likely to get arrested than their white counterparts.
My own recent research has been exploring what employers can do to help overcome the barriers associated with arrests and the stigma of incarceration.
One in three Americans has been arrested by the age of 23, but the stats get a lot worse if you are a Black man.
A young African American is seven times more likely to get arrested than a white peer. By the time they are 23, Black men are at a 49% risk of getting arrested and six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men. As of 2010, one-third of African American adult males had a felony conviction on their records, compared with 8% of all U.S. adults.