America’s Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice

NCLR and Campaign for Youth Justice, (May 20, 2009)

Issue: Civil Rights and Justice, Juvenile & Criminal Justice
Publication Type: Issue Brief

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Latino youth are treated more harshly by the justice system than white youth, for the same offenses, at all stages in the justice system including police stops, arrests, detention, waiver to the adult criminal justice system, and sentencing. The first national analysis of the disparate treatment of Latino youth in the justice system, ¿Dónde Está la Justicia?, was released in 2002. Two years later, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) released Lost Opportunities: The Reality of Latinos in the U.S. Criminal Justice System, providing a similar review of Latinos in the criminal justice system. Both works documented how Latinos were virtually invisible in studies and publications in the justice field, and how state and federal agencies neither collected accurate data nor published Latino justice data if available. Not surprisingly, Latinos were rarely included in policy debates in the juvenile or criminal justice field. To ensure that the needs of Latino youth and families are heard and represented in current policy debates, the Campaign for Youth Justice and NCLR embarked upon compiling the most recent information available about Latino youth in the justice system, with a particular focus on youth tried as adults. This policy brief, like its predecessors, includes some sobering findings.