Latinos heavily impacted by justice system, report finds

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73434 full

A new report by the advocacy organization, Californians for Safety and Justice, and the University of Southern California shows Latinos are disproportionately impacted by crime and the justice system.

Lead researcher Roberto Suro, director of USC's Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, compiled public data available on Latinos' interactions with the criminal justice system.

The data, he said, shows that "for Latinos, the criminal justice system has this process of cumulative disadvantage, where the disadvantages start at even the first encounters with the system."

Among the data compiled, Suro found:

  • According to 2011 data, nationally, Latinos are murdered at nearly twice the rate of whites--in L.A. it's three times the rate;
  • The incarceration rate for Latino males is 1.7 times the incarceration rate for white males;
  • A 2005 study on urban courts found Latinos are more likely to be denied bail and receive bail amounts of an average of $25,000 more than African Americans and whites charged with similar crimes.
  • Similarly, 58 percent of Latinos are incarcerated pretrial compared to 32 percent of white defendants.

Overall, Suro said, African Americans face worse outcomes in the justice system than Latinos, but Latinos do face discrimination.

But, until recently at least, criminal justice reform hasn't prominently featured in Latino electoral politics, Suro said.

"In Southern California now, you have Latinos in positions of power or in positions of advocacy in a way that wasn't the case twenty or thirty years ago when big decisions were made about a strategy of mass incarceration," Suro said.

Over time, issues of justice reform are "becoming" issues Latino communities focus on more.

"This is a highly varied community, in a lot of different places," Suro said. But he said, any reform efforts in California, where Latinos are the largest ethnic group and hold growing political sway, will have to have Latino support.

Read the full report here.

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