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New Report Shows Good Reason why Latino and Black Youth Have no Faith in Justice System

LatinaLista — In yesterday’s posting, I mentioned how it seemed odd that while the number of white people arrested for crimes was higher than either blacks or Hispanics, their actual numbers behind bars were far less than what the data tells us it should be — if the cases were carried out to their logical conclusions.

It’s already been reported that in a report released by the justice department on Nov. 30 (2006), 1 in every 32 American adults — or a record 7 million people — were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, with 2.2 million of them in prison or jail.

The International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London reported that this number was the highest of any country, with China ranking second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia sitting in third with 870,000.

U.S. has dubious global distinction of highest prison population.

Now, a new report sheds light that this highincarcerationn rate that affects a disproportionate number of people of color begins not with the adults, but the children.

Thanks to a Latina Lista reader who directed this study to my attention, a new report released yesterday titled Justice for Some by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency documents such facts as:

– African-American youths are 4.5 times more likely, and Latinos 2.3 times more likely, than white youths to be detained for identical offenses.

– Latino youth are confined 112 days more than white youth, and African American youth are confined on average for 61 days more than white youth.

– About half of white teenagers arrested on a drug charge go home without being formally charged and drawn into the system. Only a quarter of black teens arrested on drug charges catch a similar break.

– When charges are filed, white youths are more likely to be placed on probation while black youth are more likely to get locked up.

None of these revelations are new or surprising.

But what is disheartening is that this discrimination against black and Latino youths has become so ingrained in our judicial system that it is now institutionalized.

For whatever reason, there is a perception that young men of color (because they are the predominant ones behind bars) are more vicious, hardened, and deserving to be in jail than white youth.

What’s sad is because of this institutional discrimination, young people of color started believing the hype about themselves.

To the point now where they are caught in a vicious cycle that leaves them traumatized and affected by this experience.

Breaking down this kind of racism calls for extraordinary measures:

First, there has to be a system-wide acceptance of the fact that kids of color are not born bad.

Secondly, there must be a review of how cases are tried when it is regarding the same offenses among differentethnicitiess.

Thirdly, because youth of color, especially African Americans, comprise 58% of the youth who are admitted to state adult prisons, there must be enacted a bill that prohibits people younger than 21 from serving in an adult prison.

Fourth, there must be funding for a psychological study of our court system that sees justice colored either brown or black, and uncover the reasons why youth of color receive different and harsher treatment for equal offenses.

And fifth, a nationwide campaign created, along the lines of “Just Say No to Drugs” or “Buckle Up” to convince youth of color that their lives are of value and that crime is not their destiny — but the wrong choice.

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