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Latinos largest ethnic group in federal prisons

Posted by Elena del Valle on February 23, 2009

Number of Hispanic Federal Inmates

Number of Hispanic Federal Inmates – click on image to enlarge

An increase in illegal immigration over the years and the federal government’s recent enhanced surveillance of our borders have resulted in a significant increase in Latino inmates in federal prisons. Although Latinos only represent a fraction of the national population, they are overrepresented in federal prisons.

In 2007, 40 percent of prisoners convicted of federal crimes were Latinos. One third of federal prison inmates are Latino, making that ethnic group the largest in the federal prison system, according to a recent study. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of inmates at federal prisons doubled and the number of Latino inmates quadrupled increasing from 7,924 to 29,281.

It’s noteworthy that 72 percent of Latinos in federal prisons are not U.S. citizens and most were jailed as a result of sentences in courts from one of the states bordering Mexico. It’s not surprising then that almost half, 48 percent, of Latino federal inmates were convicted of immigration related violations. The second most common cause of incarceration was drug convictions, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study released last week.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization, is dedicated to improving public understanding of the Hispanic population in the United States and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the nation. It does not take positions on policy issues.

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Michele Valdovinos gives a presentation and participates in an extended Q&A discussion about multicultural children based on a Phoenix Multicultural and Nickelodeon study of 1,300 multicultural children in 16 United States markets.

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