Latino Youth in the Juvenile Justice System - Key Facts

Latino-youth-in-justice-system-cover-of-policy-briefA few weeks ago, America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice was issued by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ). I already posted about it, but now that I've had a chance to scan it, I thought a few of pieces of information in it were worth calling attention to. (It's an unusually lucid and readable document, and well worth reviewing on your own.)

  • On any given day, close to 18,000 Latino youth are incarcerated in America, the majority for non-violent offenses. Most Latino youth are held in juvenile detention facilities (41%) and juvenile long-term secure facilities (34%). However, one out of every four (24%) incarcerated Latino children is held in an adult prison or jail, even though youth in adult facilities are in significant danger of suicide and rape.
  • And Latino youth, like other youth of color, suffer from disparate treatment in the juvenile justice system. When compared to white youth, they are: 4% more likely to be petitioned; 16% more likely to be adjudicated delinquent; 28% more likely to be detained; 41% more likely to receive an out-of-home placement; 43% more likely than white youth to be waived to the adult system; and 40% more likely to be admitted to adult prison.
  • In some states, Latino youth are incarcerated in adult prison at rates of over 5 times that of white youth. Those states are California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

What can be done?
Recommendations for Congress and the Administration begin on p. 69 of the document; recommendations for local policymakers start on p. 71.  They focus on two areas: eliminating practices that harm Latino youth; and investing in culturally competent services and alternative, community-based programming for Latino youth and their families. 
The report also describes some model programs that are addressing racial and ethnic disparities (like our own Reclaiming Futures site in Santa Cruz, California) and some model community-based programs designed with Latinos in mind. 
Want more? Download "key facts" about Latino youth.

Updated: February 08 2018