That Study Saying Nearly Half of Black Males Get Arrested by Age 23? It’s Wrong

There are serious flaws in the method by which the researchers reached their conclusions, and that makes all their data suspect.

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Although the study is new, the data are old. The study also contributes nothing new to our collective understanding about race and the law. The study used self-reported data on a group of black males that would not quite fill a gymnasium, when direct data from court records are available. We have legitimate issues related to sentencing disparities and school-based arrest, but this study and the ensuing articles are nothing more than stunts, designed to create sound bites for culture critics, caricatures of young black men and fodder for popular discourse (or righteous indignation).

The research team have no ethnic or gender diversity, yet they attempt to address complex relationships between race, gender and the likelihood of being arrested during childhood and young adulthood. The study handles provocative findings in a manner that is glib and disconnected and rehashes trite themes without offering any meaningful solutions. 

Of the findings, the authors suggest, “Future research should focus on the identification and management of collateral risks that often accompany arrest experiences.” If they consider this “future research,” they are dreadfully late to the conversation.

Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., is an author, researcher and educational scholar best known for his publications on academic success among school-age black males and debunking myths about the black community. He is currently on temporary leave from his academic post at Howard University. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor at Howard University. He is also a contributing education editor for The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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