How Many Americans Have a Police Record? Probably More Than You Think

Criminals are the largest and most oppressed of all minorities. Crime Power Forever!

Jo Craven McGinty

Wall Street Journal

Pop quiz: How many American adults have a criminal history?

a) 5% b) 15% c) 30%

It’s often reported that nearly 1 in 3 American adults, or about 30%, has a police record.

To some, that figure sounds surprisingly high. In fact, it may be low—but there are some caveats.

First, there is no way to pinpoint the exact number because a complete data set of arrests and prosecutions doesn’t exist. And second, the statistic depends on how you define “criminal history.”

“The juvenile who got arrested when he was 15 and now is 32 and applying for a job as truck driver—does he have a criminal history?” asked Robert Brame, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina who has tried to answer the question. “I think reasonable people might disagree about that.”

Researchers who study the issue typically include anyone who has been arrested or taken into custody by police, regardless of whether the charges were ultimately dropped. By that definition, many people who have never been convicted of a crime have a criminal history.


Categories: Law/Justice

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