LATINOS & THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Latino Experiences with Crime

Disproportionate Crime Risks and Outcomes for Latinos

Latinos—and particularly young Latinos—face disproportionate risks of experiencing violent crime. Latinos under 30 are almost three times as likely to be homicide victims as white people the same age. Latinos are more likely than average to be threatened or attacked with a gun. And when Latinos report crimes, the report is less likely to lead to an arrest than the same crimes do when the victims are white.

Despite these disparities, the research on Latino victimization is somewhat sparse. Until recently, studies focused more on perpetrators than on victims, and on white and black victims to the exclusion of other groups. Government data sometimes omitted “Hispanic” as a category, making it difficult to examine how crime has affected Latinos over time. In the past two decades, though, more has been documented about the rates and consequences of victimization of Latinos.

This resource site summarizes research about Latinos as victims of crimes in California and nationwide. It covers the differences in victimization rates between Latinos and other ethnic/racial groups as well as the potential reasons behind those differences. In addition, this site examines the treatment of Latino victims by the criminal justice system. The data are addressed in three sections:

Victimization Rates discusses the prevalence of crimes against Latinos, differences between crime rates for Latinos and other groups, and the theories behind those gaps. Homicide is covered in the most detail, since homicide records tend to be more complete than those for other crimes.

Immigrant Status and Victimization examines the relationship between immigration status and reporting to the police, as well as the potential relationship between Latino immigration and neighborhood safety.

Access to Justice and Support looks at how the justice system responds when Latino victims step forward, including discussion of arrest rates of perpetrators and barriers to victims’ services.

Much of this research draws from the same data sets, some of which are publicly accessible.

Data sources include:

National Crime Victimization Survey—This survey has sampled households across the United States since 1973.

Uniform Crime Reports—These FBI reports are aggregated from law enforcement agencies nationwide. The UCR program includes the National Incident-Based Reporting System, Supplementary Homicide Reports, and the Hate Crimes Statistics program.

National Vital Statistics System—Run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this data set includes information from death certificates that can be used to study homicide.

California Attorney General’s Office Crime Data.

A full list of the works cited is also available.

Latinos and the Criminal Justice System, is a set of digital publications produced by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at USC and supported by Californians for Safety and Justice.

Lead Authors: Bri Gauger, Master of Planning; Katelyn Leenhouts, Master of Public Policy; Jennifer Moore, Master of Public Policy

Editorial Manager: Anna Fischer, Program Coordinator, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, anna.fischer [at] usc.edu



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