National

Jan 8, 2014 4:16 PM by David Randall

Criminal barriers

COLUMBIA, S.C. - At the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, Charles Brown helps point young fathers in the right direction. Many of them are working their way out from under criminal records.

"We find some of them are just childish crimes that shouldn't have been committed, but it's affecting them now and they can't go back and change it," said Brown.

Arrests can stand in the way of financial aid, education, and jobs -- roadblocks a new USC shows stand in the way of many young adults.

"Roughly a third of the population gets arrested by their early 20's," said Professor Robert Brame.

Using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Brame found that 49 percent of black males have been arrested by age 23. That's compared to 38 percent of white males. The survey did not count arrests for minor traffic violations.

"Criminal histories can present real barriers and so it's important to understand the extent to which those barriers are facing America's youth," said Brame.

Brown isn't surprised by the racial differences, saying the study shows how much work groups like his have to do. He says cycles can be broken by getting fathers back into the lives of their children. Often, that starts with expunging years-old arrests and helping young people find jobs.

"It's a known fact that if you have an actively involved father in your life, teenage pregnancy, committing crimes, all of that will decrease," said Brown. "We try to eliminate or break that curse, so to speak, to get them involved in the lives of their children."

Brown is looking forward to an upcoming alumni program that will allow him to catch up with some of his graduates. Meanwhile, Brame says the next level of his research will involve looking at the conviction rates of his study's respondents.

 

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