In 2009, one out of every 32 American adults was in jail, in prison, on parole or on probation, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (see Reference 1). The United States has more incarcerated people than any other country. The effects of every single arrest, however, reach far beyond the bars of a prison cell.
Effects on the Arrested
Being arrested can affect your income, relationships with loved ones and future employment opportunities. You may have to pay hefty fines or lawyer fees. If incarcerated, you may not have the freedom to work so making money to pay these fines could be problematic. Many employers conduct criminal background checks before hiring new workers, so your ability to get a job later in life can be affected. Also, a study done at the University of Illinois says difficulties in adjusting to separation and loss have led to depression and other mental health problems among prisoners and their families (see Reference 2).
Effects on the Victim
After an arrest is successfully made, you can feel relief that the offender is off the streets and that justice will be served to that person. Next, you have the option of pressing or dropping the charges against the offender. If you suffered financial issues, emotional trauma or physical injuries as a direct result of the crime, then you can seek further compensation from the offender or from a government-run assistance program. The Office of Justice Programs offers a variety of programs to assist victims of crime through compensation, help groups and several other means (see Resource 2).
Effects on Police
The number of arrests in a district can also make a huge impact on the arresting police department. David A. Klinger, Ph.D., award-winning author and expert on criminology, suggests that police in areas with low crime rates will respond more aggressively to less serious crimes than police in high crime areas would (see Reference 3).
Effects on the Community
Arrests can change a community in several different ways. Research done by the University of Iowa involving 33 Baltimore communities suggests that increased arrest rates in a community lead to unsatisfied residents and also a sense of apathy toward preventing crime in their neighborhoods (see Reference 4).