Philadelphia's black youth arrested at alarming rate

Chad Pradelli Image
Friday, June 12, 2020
Philadelphia's Black Youth Arrested at Alarming Rate
Action News and the data team decided to look at FBI statistics on loitering and curfew.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Action News and the data team decided to look at FBI statistics on loitering and curfew. Such crimes are fairly discretionary.

Many young African Americans say too often say they feel they are targeted and the statistics paint a sobering picture.

The analysis covers arrest data voluntarily reported to the FBI by thousands of city and county police departments, including Philadelphia.

We found Philadelphia police sit atop the charts for arresting juveniles for loitering and curfew, roughly 15,500 from 2016 through 2018. That is 10 times more than Nashville, Tennessee which had the second most behind Philadelphia.

Eighty percent of those arrested here were black.

District Attorney Larry Krasner had this to say about our findings:

"Assuming that that is correct, that's troubling. It certainly suggests the possibility the use of a certain type of violation for what is more social control than is law enforcement."

Krasner's First Assistant District Attorney, Robert Listenbee weighed in as an African American man.

"Young people often have informed me in my prior work as a public defender that they felt like they were being rousted about and oppressed by the Philadelphia Police Department," he said.

Our data team found Philadelphia juvenile African Americans were four times more likely to be arrested for loitering.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who recently announced a slew of police reforms, put out a statement to Action News:

In order to adequately comment on your findings, we would also have perform a data analysis. That stated, we remain deeply concerned about the racial disparities that exist at all decision points in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. As announced Tuesday, we are joining the City in enacting numerous police reform measures that will serve to address disparities such as these, and bring about the meaningful change we all desire.