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Understanding the Latino Experience with the US Criminal Justice System

Understanding the Latino Experience with the US Criminal Justice System

Introduction

People identifying as Latino and Hispanic refer to individuals comprising of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rico, Spanish, or Central and Southern origin irrespective of their race. Latinos comprise the second-largest minority group in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, there have been reduced confidence levels in the justice systems. This comes at a time when Latino people are interacting more with the police, prison, and court system. In previous decades, Latinos have become more exposed to criminal justice systems because their population has been continuously rising. The share of Latino inmates in local, state, and federal jails and prisons grew significantly to 20% in 2008 compared to 16% in 2000 (Clair, & Winter, 2016). Worth noting, racism will continue to manifest in the criminal justice system for as long as it exists. The first step in improving Latinos’ experience with the criminal system is to eliminate racial discrimination. Racial discrimination has a way of fuelling overt bias that is evident in the attitude assumptions, language, strategies, conduct, and policies of criminal agencies. The purpose of this essay is to provide an account of how the criminal justice system applies values and beliefs to the Latino population found across the United States. Additionally, the text focuses on the effects of these beliefs on the delivery of services and the continuum of social problems.

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Negative Perception and Discrimination by Federal, Local and State Police Departments

There is significant data regarding the experiences of people of color at the hand of the justice system, but there is little documentation regarding the experiences of Latino people with law enforcement. The structure of perceptions and interactions of Latinos with the enforcement of the law helps us understand the police practices and justice laws. People have a bias against Latino people in the United States. People only view them had poor, lazy, uneducated, which clouds the judgment of the administration officers such as the police. Additionally, most people associate Latinos with illegal migration; they are not accepted as citizens despite been born and bred in the U.S. Latino people feel that they are physical appearance puts them at the disadvantage of being stopped by police officers (Hurwitz, Peffley, & Mondak, 2015). This is because the police are constantly profiling them because of the bias they hold against their ethnicity. Moreover, police make little or no effort to communicate with people of Latino origin, particularly if the police officers are not familiar with the Spanish language. Another factor is that when Latinos call for the police in their homes, they show up very late or even end up not showing up at all. In essence, police departments in general, hold prejudice against Latinos. They discriminate against them simply because of their Latino roots.

Discrimination from Fellow Latino Officers, Immigration & Customs Issues

Worth noting, there are reports to indicate that compared to other ethnic groups, Latino people are poorly treated compared to other ethnic groups such as Black and Asian individuals. Many Latinos admit to having a negative experience at the hands of police officers. If not, most of them say that they have family and friends that have experienced discrimination at the hands of the police. It is rather unfortunate that police officers of Latino descent are likely to mistreat their fellow Latinos compared to other police officers. This is because they enjoy looking down on people from their own race that are not educated and lack the necessary papers that can accord them employment and a chance at a better life. What is more daunting is that Latino police officers deliberately avoid using Spanish while speaking to Latinos, although they can hear and speak it well. In essence, Latino police officers make life difficult for their people by refraining from participating in any action that can help their cause. Although they are fully aware that a language barrier exists between them and the police, they refuse to help them at all. Furthermore, Latino people also have a negative perspective on immigration procedures and the entire justice system. They do not trust them with their welfare because they know the systems were not designed to favor them since there is a prejudice. If Latino police improved the way they treat their fellow Latinos, things would improve. By treating them with necessary fairness, professionalism, and respect, the Latino people will change their perspective about the police, and the general justice system would improve.

Impact of Belief on Service Delivery and Continuum of problems

The impact of negative perceptions about Latinos goes beyond the socio-economic consequences. Racial discrimination accords Latinos poor treatment by the police and justice systems. Negative stereotypes limit their access to services, including education, health, and employment. This limits the economic productivity of Latinos because they cannot contribute positively to the country’s gross domestic product. This disproportionately affects the Latino community because they remain poor. This is the reason why Latinos are mostly clustered in blue-collar jobs. Amongst all racial groups, Latinos have a 20% gap in employment between men and women. The Latino found in the U.S. have the lowest educationally attainment at both university education and secondary school diploma (Messing, Becerra, Ward-Lasher, & Androff, 2015). They tend to be more concentrated in clue collar jobs and are more likely to work in maintenance and construction domains, such as construction laborers and agricultural workers. Their women counterparts predominantly work in service sectors such as cleaning, maids, and food preparation. This situation only seems to exacerbate inequalities and poverty for the Latina population. The fact that Latino Americans come from diverse backgrounds, including Asian, African, and European, further makes it hard for them to have their woe identity. These differences in race and nation of origin have been seen to shape and complicate the experiences of Latinos in the United States. It exposes them to domestic and intimate partner violence owing to the dynamics involved in such a relationship. In such a scenario, one party holds power over the other person, whether financial, physical, or judicial where they threaten to have them deported. There are systemic socio, political, and economic factors that affect the lives of the Latino population.

Conclusion

Latino people comprising the largest minority group in the U. S have many origins; some are Asians, others are Black, Spanish, and Mexican, among others. For a long time, Latino have been subject to negative stereotypes. People see them as lazy and poor people who are uneducated. Others see them as illegal immigrants. These negative perceptions have played a role in the way the criminal systems treat Latinos. Latinos are mostly discriminated against by their fellow Latino police. The police refrain from using Spanish to communicate. This is because they like looking down on people that are less educated than themselves. Racial discrimination has a way of fuelling overt bias that is evident in the attitude assumptions, language, strategies, conduct, and policies of criminal agencies. Further, they take a long time to respond to calls by Latino people in their homes. Most Latinos have reported not to trust the immigration and customs practices because they discriminate against them. These negative stereotypes have affected service delivery among Latinos. It excluded them from education and health. This limits their economic productivity, further exposing them to poverty, domestic violence, and other inequalities.

References

Clair, M., & Winter, A. S. (2016). How judges think about racial disparities: Situational decision‐making in the criminal justice system. Criminology, 54(2), 332-359.

Hurwitz, J., Peffley, M., & Mondak, J. (2015). Linked fate and outgroup perceptions: Blacks, Latinos, and the U.S. criminal justice system. Political Research Quarterly, 68(3), 505-520.

Messing, J. T., Becerra, D., Ward-Lasher, A., & Androff, D. K. (2015). Latinas’ perceptions of law enforcement: Fear of deportation, crime reporting, and trust in the system. Affilia, 30(3), 328-340.

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