JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new report published in the journal Crime & Delinquency put a harsh spotlight on the high rates of arrest among young people.
According to the report, 40 percent of white men are arrested at least once by the age of 23; nearly 50 percent of black men fall in the same category.
It's an alarming statistic that researchers are shedding light on. The study stems from a survey of 7,000 people during a 10-year period, asking men if they've ever been taken into custody for non-traffic related offenses.
The study revealed arrests from underage drinking to violent assaults by the time many of the men surveyed had turned 23.
"Law enforcement, we need to do a better job of being proactive and instead of reactive. We have to be proactive in our fight," said Channel 4's crime expert Ken Jefferson.
Jefferson said part of the fight to change the statistics is reaching out to youth at an early age.
Leaders at the YMCA in Jacksonville told Channel 4 that the key to changing youth incarceration rates is education.
"We had a little boy who learned how to read at the YMCA," said Regional Development Youth Director for YMCA First Coast Candace DeMarco.
DeMarco said after-school programs and summer educational workshops, along with tutoring and mentoring programs, all increase a school-aged child's chances of finishing high school and college, and decreased the odds of ending up in jail.
DeMarco said 92 percent of YMCA students enrolled in an educational enrichment program will finish high school, versus 52 percent who are not enrolled.
DeMarco told Channel 4 it's an effort that will take everyone getting involved.
"How are we as one team going to change this?" asked DeMarco.
The researchers who conducted this survey said they hope the shocking numbers will shape policy around these arrests so that it doesn't have lasting effects on young people's lives.
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