How many people get arrested?

I recently wrote about how OR can be used to determine how employer criminal background checks could be conducted. This is a follow up post.

An excellent article by Carl Bialik in the WSJ summarizes arrest patterns in the United States. It reports that according to a report from the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, 52% of American men will be arrested in their lifetime. This is consistent with the number that Al Blumstein reported in the 1960s.

Both then and now, the researchers who came up with this number were surprised that so many men get arrested. For a law-abiding citizen, it is hard to understand how so many people are arrested. The image from Bialik’s article (displayed below) helps in that regard. Note that the proportion of men that have been arrested (approximately 40%) is lower, since some men have not yet been arrested for the first time yet. The proportion of men who will be arrested in four times higher than the proportion of women that will be arrested.

Bialik explores the 52% claim in greater detail in his blog.

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