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New UM report finds that young Black boys disproportionately arrested more than their peers in Miami-Dade

Report finds that Black boys comprise 63% of arrests but 17% of population
Report finds that Black boys comprise 63% of arrests but 17% of population 03:15

MIAMI -- A new report has found that Black youngsters accounted for more than half of arrests last year in Miami-Dade County despite being just one-sixth of the population.

The research was conducted by University of Miami researchers who found that youth arrests dropped in Miami-Dade County by 76 percent.

"A lot of that can be attributed to diversion programs, like the teen court program," said Dr. Marcus Bright, youth services administrator for the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust, which helped sponsor the report.  "Black boys made up 9 percent of the youth population and 52 percent of the arrests. So obviously we believe that that is a crisis."

But the study also found that while African-American youngsters make up just 17 percent of the population, they represented 63 percent of arrests in 2022 in Miami-Dade.

Members of the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust were holding a symposium Friday night to discuss the report and talk about potential solutions..

Report released on trends in youth arrests 03:06

The event at St. Thomas University Convocation Hall in Miami Gardens was set to feature elected officials, community leaders and scholars exploring the agency's recent University of Miami-commissioned report examining youth arrest patterns and practices in Miami-Dade County. 

Bright said an arrest at a young age can have lasting implications.

"One mishap (or) one arrest, for whatever reason, means that they could be discriminated against when it comes to employment opportunities; when it comes to housing; when it comes to education," he said. "And drastically impact the trajectory of the rest of their lives."

Researches recommended implementing a public option for universal early learning coverage.

"Studies show that if a child is reading fluently by the third grade, they're six times more likely to graduate high school," Bright said. "And so if we can deal with that problem upstream, then that will reduce the propensity for them to engage In an activities that may lead to their incarceration."

The report also calls for intervention by more mental health professionals.

"We believe that there should also be a mental health coordinator in every school and there should be double, triple quadruple the investment in mental health professionals," Bright said. "So that young people can be equipped with the with the competencies to help to deal with their emotions, and to enter prevent potential engagement and activities that can lead to their arrest."

 Experts say young Black boys could benefit by seeing professionals who look like them.

"How can you aspire to be an engineer if you've never seen one?" Bright said. "And so we want to be intentional about before adding exposure to new and these emerging career pathways, particularly in high wage industries, as we know that Miami is the most unaffordable housing market in the country. And so to live here long term, we can no longer be over represented in the lower wage industry."

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