Overview of Arrest Trends in 2022

The chart shown above is built on data published by the FBI's Crime Data Explorer. As of March 2024, the data from 2022 is the latest available (for arrests). Most of us are well aware that male crime figures are higher than female crime figures, but let's take a moment to take a closer look into the history and studies behind these differences. Is this caused by economic conditions? Do law enforcement practices play a role? What causes this gender predisposition in crime?

A reporter covering a crime scene for a TV news station with police in the background

Photo by cottonbro studio

Demographics of Arrests: Age and Gender

The year 2022 saw a total of 6,005,263 arrests across the United States, with a significant gender disparity: 72.2% were males (4,337,177 arrests) and 27.8% were females (1,668,086 arrests), according to the FBI's Crime Data Explorer (source). This statistic brings to light the ongoing conversation about gender roles and criminality. A closer look at the age distribution of these arrests reveals that the 30-34 age group accounted for the majority of arrests among both genders, marking a shift from 1985 when the 25-29 age group was most prevalent. This change suggests a trend towards later-life criminal activity, which could reflect broader societal shifts in life milestones and economic pressures. The data also unveils that the least number of arrests occur in the 'Under 10' age bracket, emphasizing the rarity but not the absence of childhood arrests. The nuances of this data are critical, especially in the 25 states without a specified minimum arrest age (source). The variation in state policies—such as Florida's minimum age of 7, Washington's of 8, and others at 10 or 11—impacts juvenile justice approaches (source). The controversial arrest of a 6-year-old girl in Florida in 2019 sparked national debate (source), highlighting ethical and legal complexities surrounding the criminal responsibility of children. These incidents raise critical questions about the appropriateness of the existing legal frameworks and the societal responsibility towards children.

The contrast in arrest rates between males and females remains a feature in crime statistics. However, the figures are indeed changing, slowly. Looking back at 1985, the FBI recorded a total of 1,844,325 female arrests and 9,150,288 male arrests; placing male arrests at 83.2%. Nearly 4 decades later, that figure has shrunk by a little over 10% to 72.2%. If this rate continues, the disparity in arrests between the two genders may disappear sometime early in the next century. Arrests overall have also fallen by 45% since the 80's, which is wonderful news for everyone.

In 1985, females accounted for 16.8% of all arrests, a figure that has incrementally risen to 27.8% nearly four decades later. This increase could be an indication of changes in law enforcement's focus, the nature of crime, and perhaps a closing of the gender gap in areas of crime typically dominated by males. I recommend this article by Nadia Campaniello from the University of Essex.

Female criminality, particularly in property crimes, has seen various trends over the years. Here are some simplified insights:

Gender Disparity

Peeking into the gap between gals and guys in arrest stats, we get a whole lot from digging into some smart folks' work on this. There's a couple of studies that really throw a spotlight on this tricky subject:

The gist of the first paper is all about the why's of more dudes getting nabbed by the cops than dudettes. It's like, the way society expects men and women to act and handle stress can lead to more men acting out. But don't think it's saying women don't get their hands dirty; it's just that when they do, it's often because they're up against a wall, with fewer chances to make something of themselves.

On the flip side, the second bit of research backs up the thought that women aren't as likely to get into trouble, but when they do, it's kinda shaded by how much dough they're rolling in, or not, and how folks see women's roles. Plus, it throws in a reminder that you've gotta mix in other stuff like race and class to really get the full picture of what's going down.

So yeah, mash all this together, and it's clear as mud that the whole man-woman thing in crime isn't just black and white. It's more about the big ol' mix of life stuff that either pushes or pulls folks in different directions.