Study: Stop-and-Frisk Doesn’t Deter Youth Crime, It Accelerates It

Researchers found that when you label someone a criminal, they start to act like one.

By Jamilah King Jul 30, 2013

You hear it time and again: Supporters of the New York City Police Department’s controversial Stop-and-Frisk program say that the project is a necessary tool to prevent crime from happening in some of the city’s hardest hit areas. But according to a new study published in the journal Crime and Delinquency, young people who are stopped, questioned, and frisked are more likely than those who were not to break the law.

From Time Magazine:

In the current study, Stephanie Wiley, a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri in St. Louis and her colleagues followed some 2,600 students enrolled in a classroom-based gang prevention program in seven cities from 2006 to 2013.  Over the course of that time, some teens were stopped by the police, some stopped and arrested and others were not.

By the end of the study, those who did have police contact early in the trial period reported committing five more delinquent acts on average, ranging from cutting classes to selling drugs and attacking people with a weapon, than those who were not stopped randomly by police. And the students who were arrested for any reason wound up committing around 15 more delinquent acts on average than those who were not. The rates held even after the scientists adjusted for the effect of age, race and previous delinquency that could also affect their odds of being targeted by the police.

 Wiley summed up the point this way: "The theory is that when you’re publicly labeled as delinquent, you start to take on that role and experience social exclusion," says Wiley, "You might also become friends with others who are delinquent based on a shared background, values and beliefs."