WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Arrests are part of enforcing the rule of law, which is intended to protect individual and community safety.[i] Law enforcement officials rarely observe the commission of violent and property crimes first-hand; therefore, arrests for these crimes depend on both 1) the strength of an area’s sense of community and 2) the public’s willingness to provide credible information to law enforcement. Better information leads to more thorough investigations. It is important to note, however, that arrests are viewed differently in different communities.[ii] To some, the arrest and subsequent conviction of an individual confirms that that individual has undergone a legal process and been found guilty of a crime. To others, an arrest may be seen as the exercise of police authority. In general, if a large percentage of arrested individuals are never charged with a crime or are found to be not guilty, this can detract from the public’s confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the system.[iii]
[i] H. Snyder, Arrest in the United States, 1990-2010 (US Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2012).
[ii] Justice Policy Institute. Rethinking the Blues: How we police in the US and at what cost (2012).
[iii] P. Fite, W. Porche’, and D. Pardini, 2010. “Explaining Discrepancies in Arrest Rates Between Black and White Male Juveniles,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 77, no. 5 (2010): 916-927.