Latinos are disproportionately victims of crime and the criminal justice system, according to a report by Californians for Safety and Justice.
The report states that Latinos are significantly overrepresented in the state’s courts, jails and prisons, and as crime victims.
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California, and “have been dis-served by current criminal justice practices,” said Lenore Anderson, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy organization, as reported by Brenda Gazzar of the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Unless and until we start to incorporate the experiences of the Latino community in our policy priorities, we’ll continue to see both over-incarceration rates as well as probably disproportionate rates of victimization,” Anderson added.
Californians for Safety and Justice said it aims to increase public safety and reduce waste in the state’s criminal justice system. It commissioned Roberto Suro of the University of Southern California to compile and analyze much of the report’s data. The research indicates that three decades of a failed system has particularly harmed Latino communities.
The findings cited that Latinos were murdered in California in 2011 at twice the rate of whites (5.1 per 100,000 compared to 2.4) and even higher for Latinos under the age of 30 (6.1).
Firearms were used nearly 73 percent of the time that year versus 54 percent of the time for whites. Latinos were more likely to have been murdered by strangers than were whites (40.5 percent vs. 26 percent), according to the California Attorney General’s Office.
“It ends up being a pipeline to
incarceration that begins at the police
station in the moments after the arrest”
A 2011 federal report found that Latinos, more than any other ethnic group, were convicted of offenses receiving mandatory sentences. A 2005 analysis of felony defendants in urban courts found that Latinos were less likely to be released on their own recognizance, more likely to be denied bail and issued higher bail amounts than African-Americans or whites in similar circumstances, according to a Justice Quarterly article.
Those who are in jail while awaiting trial can end up copping pleas in order to get out or have difficulty mounting a defense because of limited access to attorneys, witnesses and their community, the report said.
“It ends up being a pipeline to incarceration that begins at the police station in the moments after the arrest,” Suro commented. “One in which Latinos are particularly vulnerable by virtue of language, income, lack of knowledge of the system,” commented Suro.
While the consequences were severe and disproportionate for Latinos, the results for African-Americans were even worse by many measures, Suro added
The report indicated the justice system should provide culturally competent and Spanish-language services to meet the community’s needs and improve support and services for Latino survivors of crime.