People with disabilities are far more likely to be arrested by the time they reach their late 20s than their typically-developing peers, new research indicates.

Those with emotional, physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities face a 43 percent probability of arrest compared to just 30 percent for others.

The findings published recently in the American Journal of Public Health are based on data obtained through the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997, which collects sociological information regularly on nearly 9,000 Americans who were born between 1980 and 1984.

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“I expected to find that people with disabilities would be more likely to be arrested, but I was frankly shocked by how large the disparity was,” said study author Erin McCauley of Cornell University. “These findings really point to a problem.”

The odds of arrest were greatest among black men with disabilities, 55 percent of whom were detained by age 28, the study found. By contrast, less than 28 percent of white people without disabilities had been arrested by that juncture in life, the lowest odds of any group.

“For people with disabilities, particularly men of color, the experience of arrest is extraordinarily common. They are constantly exposed to this risk,” McCauley said.

The findings suggest a need for better police training and improved services for people with disabilities in the community to reduce the likelihood of law enforcement interactions, McCauley indicated.

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