10 Troubling Facts About Latinas and Mass Incarceration

10 Troubling Facts About Latinas in Mass Incarceration

The U.S. criminal justice system is broken, and this truth is becoming more evident for anyone with a Wi-Fi connection and Twitter account.

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From the highly publicized police killings of unarmed men like Michael Brown and Eric Garner to the non-indictment of their badged killers, white America is finally getting a glimpse of what life is like for many men of color across the country.

However, the hombres aren’t the only ones battling a racist and unjust system. Just as the country is more familiar with the names of Brown and Garner than they are Rekia Boyd and Jessie Hernandez – women of color who were also killed by law enforcement – the mass incarceration of mujeres is also absent from dominant criminal (in)justice conversations.

Ahead, find 10 troubling facts about Latinas and the prison industrial complex.

1. Latinas make up one of the fastest-growing groups imprisoned. In fact, the number of women behind bars is increasing at almost double the rate for men, and Latinas are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated than white women.

2. A majority of these mujeres are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses. The "War on Drugs" has been waged on communities of color, with blacks and Latinas experiencing much higher arrest rates, though they neither use nor sale drugs more than whites.

3. Beyond arrests, Latinas are more likely to be disadvantaged in terms of the decision to incarcerate. Latinas and blacks are more likely to be jailed for similar crimes as whites.

4. Even more, the sentencing of Latinas is often harsher than their white counterparts. In fact, on the state level, Latinas are 27.6 percent more likely to have a harsher sentence for a similar crime than whites. At the federal level, that number leaps to 47.6 percent.  

5. Latinas are also less likely to receive a reduction in sentence for providing "substantial assistance" to the prosecution. In fact, a 1997 study found that whites who provided this assistance received an average of 23 percent reduction. For Latinos, the average was 14 percent.

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