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New Report Cites 'Inconsistent' Data On Latinos in Justice System

How Latino and Hispanic ethnicity data are stored in local criminal justice systems is inconsistent and

inhibits understanding of racial and ethnic disparities across local jurisdictions, says the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Safety & Justice Challenge in a new report.


Across 14 sites, only 30 percent of criminal justice record management systems capture Latino or Hispanic

ethnicity data separately from racial characteristics, and the remainder captured Latino ethnicity in a

single race variable, if at all, says the report.


Even when ethnicity data is captured in a database, these data are not consistently collected for all cases passing through key criminal justice system points. Where agencies have the capacity to capture Latinos'

ethnicity, low rates of reporting and high proportions of missing data, impeded accurate measurement of

Latino outcomes.

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Latinos in four sites made up a smaller proportion of those arrested or booked than their countywide populations. Black and indigenous people were over-represented in arrests and jail bookings relative to their countywide populations.


Latino and white rates of justice involvement were similar. In many cases, rates of Latino involvement were lower than that of whites.


However, Black people were subject to substantially elevated rates of arrest, jail booking, and court convictions (and dismissals), demonstrating considerable concentration of justice system contact for specifically marginalized groups.


"Importantly, we caution that our findings may reflect the inaccurate representation of Latinos in criminal

justice data management systems across the 4 sites," MacArthur said. "Local, state, and national efforts dedicated to advancing racial equity must center the systematic recording of Latinos in the justice system."


“The U.S. has never paid close attention to the experience of Latino people in our criminal justice system — until now,” said Nancy Rodriguez, a criminology professor at the University of California Irvine and co-author of this report. “We hope that this report is the first of many to take a comprehensive look at this jail population, the findings from which will help us develop much-needed reforms to the system and further racial equity.”


“Researchers must examine arrests and jail bookings by ethnicity and race to better recognize the disparities and inequities of the criminal justice system,” said Bria Gillum, a senior program officer at MacArthur. ”With this report, we hope to contribute to new solutions as understanding the representation of Latinos in our jails is the first step to ensuring racial and ethnic equity.”

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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