Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Arrest: The Role of Individual, Home, School, and Community Characteristics
Contact with the justice system can lead to a range of poor health and social outcomes. While persons of color are disproportionately represented in both the juvenile and criminal justice systems, reasons for these patters remain unclear. This study sought to examine the extent and sources of differences in arrests during adolescence and young adulthood among blacks, whites, and Hispanics in the USA. Multilevel cross-sectional logistic regression analyses were conducted using data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 12,752 respondents). Results showed significantly higher likelihood of having ever been arrested among blacks, when compared to whites, even after controlling for a range of delinquent behaviors (odds ratio = 1.58, 95 % confidence interval = 1.27, 1.95). These black–white disparities were no longer present after accounting for racial composition of the neighborhood, supporting the growing body of research demonstrating the importance of contextual variables in driving disproportionate minority contact with the justice system.