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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hispanics and the Criminal Justice System

Low Confidence, High Exposure

At a time when Latinos are interacting more than ever with police, courts and prisons, their confidence in the U.S. criminal justice system is closer to the low levels expressed by blacks than to the high levels expressed by whites, according to a pair of nationwide surveys by the Pew Research Center.

Six-in-ten (61%) Hispanics say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that the police in their local communities will do a good job enforcing the law, compared with 78% of whites and 55% of blacks. Just under half (46%) of Hispanics say they have confidence that police officers will not use excessive force on suspects, compared with 73% of whites and 38% of blacks. Similarly, just under half of Hispanics say they are confident that police officers will treat Hispanics fairly (46%) and that courts will treat Hispanics fairly (49%). In comparison, 74% of whites and 37% of blacks say they have confidence that the police will treat blacks and whites equally.

The report also finds that more than half (56%) of Latinos say they or an immediate family member had contact with the criminal justice system in the previous five years. Contact includes reporting a crime to the police, serving on a jury, serving as a sworn witness in court, attending court on a criminal matter, being questioned by the police, being arrested, being on probation or parole, or serving time in jail or prison.

The report, "Hispanics and the Criminal Justice System: Low Confidence, High Exposure," authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center and Gretchen Livingston, Senior Researcher, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website, www.pewhispanic.org.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

source: Pew Hispanic Center press release

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