Lead author Robert Brame, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the State University of New York at Albany and colleagues analyzed self-reported arrest data -- excluding arrests for minor traffic violations -- from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1997 to 2008.
The study, involving 7,335 teens and young adults ages 8-23, found between 30.2 percent to 41.4 percent were arrested before their 23rd birthday.
"Since the last national estimate based on data from 1965, the cumulative prevalence of arrest for American youth -- particularly in the period of late adolescence and early adulthood -- has increased substantially," the study said. "At a minimum, being arrested for criminal activity signifies increased risk of unhealthy lifestyle, violence involvement, and violent victimization."
The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.