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U.S. Latinos and Criminal Injustice

U.S. Latinos and Criminal Injustice

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 378
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    U.S. Latinos and Criminal Injustice
    Book Description:

    Latinos in the United States encompass a broad range of racial, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical identities. Originating from the Caribbean, Spain, Central and South America, and Mexico, they have unique justice concerns. The ethnic group includes U.S. citizens, authorized resident aliens, and undocumented aliens, a group that has been a constant partner in the Latino legal landscape for over a century. This book addresses the development and rapid growth of the Latino population in the United States and how race-based discrimination, hate crimes, and other prejudicial attitudes, some of which have been codified via public policy, have grown in response. Salinas explores the degrading practice of racial profiling, an approach used by both federal and state law enforcement agents; the abuse in immigration enforcement; and the use of deadly force against immigrants. The author also discusses the barriers Latinos encounter as they wend their way through the court system. While all minorities face the barrier of racially based jury strikes, bilingual Latinos deal with additional concerns, since limited-English-proficient defendants depend on interpreters to understand the trial process. As a nation rich in ethnic and racial backgrounds, the United States, Salinas argues, should better strive to serve its principles of justice.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-463-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Law
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Latinos and America’s Criminal Justice Systems (pp. ix-xii)

    Four key features of the relationship between Latinos and America’s criminal justice systems are as follows: (1) the racial legacy of America before it “annexed” the region known today as the Southwest; (2) the imposition of racial structures on the new citizens and the evolution of those structures; (3) the more or less continuous emigration of people from Mexico to this country since the beginning of the twentieth century; and (4) the rapid growth of the Latino population in recent decades in a period of free-market fundamentalism.

    The institution of slavery in the United States was rooted in the colonies...

  4. Foreword (pp. xiii-xvi)

    More than forty years ago, in its 1970 benchmark report,Mexican Americans and the Administration of Justice in the Southwest, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded: “This report paints a bleak picture of the relationship between Mexican Americans in the Southwest and the agencies which administer justice in those states. . . . There is evidence of police misconduct against Mexican Americans.”¹ Accordingly, in their landmark study of the Mexican American population in the United States,The Mexican American People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority, Leo Grebler, Joan Moore, and Ralph Guzman noted the persistence of racially hostile mindsets...

  5. Preface (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. Acknowledgments (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
    • CHAPTER 1 History and Evolution of the U.S. Latino Population (pp. 3-14)

      As early as 1803, American foreign and domestic policy began to shape the future of a permanent Latino presence in the United States when the United States purchased the formerly Spanish-ruled Louisiana Territory from France. The purchase of Florida followed in 1819 (Oboler and Gonzalez 2005, 4: 268; Weber 1973, 14). Soon thereafter, Moses Austin and his son Stephen entered into an immigration agreement with Mexico. Anglos began to migrate from the southeastern United States to Mexican Texas. Inevitable racial and cultural conflicts between Mexicans and Anglos led to a call for independence by the white immigrants, resulting in the...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Legally White, Socially Brown Latino (pp. 15-28)

      In 1897, the question of race and color arose in a Texas federal court when a Mexican resident alien petitioned for naturalization. The federal government objected to the Mexican’s eligibility on the basis that only white persons and African Americans qualified. In observing the applicant’s skin color, the judge commented that the applicant Rodriguez appeared to be a nonwhite person. The judge granted the petition, notwithstanding his skin color, since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 bestowed citizenship upon other Mexicans.¹

      The Rodriguez naturalization decision did not ameliorate race relations between Anglos and persons of Mexican descent. Racial conflicts...

    • CHAPTER 3 Anti-Latino Hate Crimes (pp. 29-46)

      The fbi’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects data about hate crimes, and the agency then prepares statistical reports regarding these violations. Between 2003 and 2007, when massive immigration-reform demonstrations occurred, hate crimes against Latinos increased by 40 percent (American Bar Association 2013b, 27). California, home to over 14 million Latinos, in 2010 had a 47 percent increase in hate crimes from the previous year (American Bar Association 2013b, 27). Federal statistics for 2010 reveal that 65 percent, or 681, of the 1,040 ethnicity-based incidents involved anti-Latino bias (U.S. Department of Justice 2011a). During 2011, the FBI statistics revealed 6,216 single-bias...

    • CHAPTER 4 Reactions to the Latino Threat (pp. 47-62)

      During the 1960s, besides racial differences, the class factor predominated. In that era class effectively served as a proxy for race. Our nation’s history has sadly been contaminated with claims of racial superiority and official suppression of people of color. It began when our Founding Fathers lessened the human status of African slaves by effectively providing a classification of each slave at only “three fifths” of a person.¹ Fifty plus years later, another minority, the Mexican mestizo, became a target and an addition to the “colored” race.

      During the legislative debate leading to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights...

    • CHAPTER 5 Racial Profiling of U.S. Latinos by Local Police Officers (pp. 65-86)

      This chapter focuses on the behavior of local and state police officers in the enforcement process insofar as alleged racial profiling is concerned. “Racial profiling” is the discriminatory practice law enforcement officials engage in when they target individuals for suspicion based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Criminal profiling generally involves reliance on a stereotype or a group of characteristics that police associate with criminal activity. For example, racial profiling utilizes the race of a person to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations, practices commonly referred to as “driving while black or brown” (ACLU...

    • CHAPTER 6 Abuses Resulting from Federal Immigration Enforcement Efforts (pp. 87-106)

      Mexicans, the initial U.S. Latino group in 1848, actually lived in what is now the United States decades before the arrivals in 1620 of non-Hispanic Europeans at Plymouth Rock. Spaniards first founded St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, and later, in 1610, founded the Santa Fe area in New Mexico (Weber 1973, 14). Notwithstanding, the white majority viewed Latinos as newcomers with no rights and abusively treated them as nonwhite people. This Anglo attitude arose from the nation’s historical foundations, which envisioned a nation of free white men who would administer governmental affairs. The Founding Fathers provided that representation shall include...

    • CHAPTER 7 State and Local Police Deprivations of Latino Civil Rights (pp. 107-144)

      Mexican Americans and other Latinos encounter discriminatory treat ment in state and local police enforcement of criminal and other laws. This treatment, combined with prejudicial attitudes among some police officers, often leads to psychological and physical injury, with the latter at times resulting in death. Like other minority groups, Latinos encounter difficulties in convincing grand juries to return indictments for an officer’s use of excessive force and the violations of civil rights. Similarly, an officer’s insults and the use of derogatory or racist language are ignored, even though the conduct constitutes an abuse of office or official oppression. Negative experiences...

    • CHAPTER 8 Inequality in the Formation of Grand and Petit Juries (pp. 147-170)

      During 1943, Latinos went to “war” on two fronts. First, U.S. Latino soldiers displayed their courage and patriotism in Europe and in the Pacific Theater. Ironically, the barrios of East Los Angeles (East LA), California, and Texas provided the second front, where Latinos experienced the wounds that emanate from racial bigotry. Governor Earl Warren appointed a special commission to investigate the East LA racial conflict, which confirmed numerous civil rights violations (Acuña 1972, 207). During this same period, theMendez v. Westminster School Districtcase declared segregation of Latinos in public education unconstitutional.¹ In 1947, Governor Warren approved the California...

    • CHAPTER 9 The Rights of the Limited-English-Proficient Accused in the Criminal Courts (pp. 171-194)

      Several Spanish-language conflicts arise throughout the criminal justice system. This chapter addresses primarily interpreter problems that the limited-English-proficient (LEP) accused faces in a criminal case. Language issues arise in investigatory and adjudicatory phases of a criminal prosecution, but they are not thoroughly addressed. For example, only a few years ago, Texas’s highest court for criminal matters excluded the LEP convict from a beneficial rehabilitation program based on the absence of Spanish-speaking personnel. The Texas legislature thereafter corrected this injustice by providing that a judge “shall not deny community supervision to a defendant based solely on the defendant’s inability to speak,...

    • CHAPTER 10 Latino Victims of Denials of Due Process (pp. 195-242)

      To fully appreciate the U.S. Latino experience in the criminal justice system, an understanding of a few constitutional principles is essential. A primary concept that impacts Latinos adversely at times is that of due process of law, a notion that has several meanings. First, understand that not only lay persons but also lawyers confront difficulties in understanding due process. One idea involves “fairness,” this intangible quality of equality and evenhanded treatment in fundamental matters. By definition, the idea is inevitably essential in criminal matters that impact life and liberty. Another, more specific facet—procedural due process—relates to the adequacy...

    • CHAPTER 11 How Mass Incarceration Underdevelops Latino Communities (pp. 243-260)

      In criminal justice scholarship, there is an abundance of research that charts the monumental growth of American prisons in the post– civil rights era. Scholars have labeled this punitive posture by a host of terms, perhaps most prominently mass incarceration or mass imprisonment (Garland 2001, 51). Other monikers include “hyper-incarceration,” “warehousing,” “prison industrial complex,” and “incarceration nation.” During this period, prison rates soared and in due time distinguished the country with the highest rate of incarceration and largest prison population in the world. The shift to incarceration, however, was not evenly spread among American society, but rather became the burden...

  10. Conclusion (pp. 261-270)

    The various barriers Latinos encounter in the criminal justice system require remedial actions in order to have a more impartial system of justice. Some solutions are more readily attainable. Other difficulties, such as the glaring economic inequality among Americans and particularly Latinos, will perhaps never be completely resolved. The justice system nevertheless needs to adhere to efforts to provide competent court-appointed counsel. At the same time, more needs to be done to provide for certified Spanish-language interpreters, since the limited-English-proficient (LEP) Latino population has increased at an incredible rate.

    One situation that is difficult, and almost impossible to equalize, relates...

  11. APPENDIX. List of Cases, Constitutions, Treaties, Statutes, and Regulations (pp. 271-282)
  12. Notes (pp. 283-312)
  13. References (pp. 313-336)
  14. Index (pp. 337-352)