More Latinos live in Prison than in College housing

September 27th, 2007 · 20 Comments

We have about 2.7 inmates living in prison for every Latino college student living on campus. It is widely known that education, especially higher education, creates opportunities and lessens the likelihood of citizens entering a life of crime. This is a startling statistic, even though the comparison does not account for age differences, gender, commuter students, and type of crime committed. Why can’t our leadership get angry and fired up about this? We need to put more emphasis on educating our youth instead of worrying about same sex marriage and even to a certain extent illegal immigration (hey, they are going to keep coming, and yes, American businesses will continue hiring them). If we aren’t educating our children, we aren’t going to produce the leadership we need to move us ahead.

DiversityInc also published a blurb on this today referencing Bill Cosby. While I think that Bill Cosby’s criticisms of the black community are valid to a point, I am saddened that we don’t have a spokesperson or someone drawing attention to this with such furor in the Latino community. I do think that society’s lack of investment in schools and in after school and job training programs plays a big part in creating this tragedy, but we also have to look inward. I definitely think that there is a glorification of the “gangsta” or cholo lifestyle within our communities, and this is evidenced from the styles of clothing, choice of tattoos, music, etc. What do you think?

Tags: Crime · Education · Immigration · Prison · Same-sex marriage

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michaelr // Sep 27, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    This says everything about our cultural values, and the daily obstacles we face to achieve the WASP version of the American Dream. Our Latino political leaders seem to be too self-serving and preoccupied with hanging out at the Playboy mansion, chasing younger women, and wasting time and resources determining the gold content of the Medal of Honor. Are there any Cesar Chavez’s out there to bring us into the light?

  • 2 barista // Sep 27, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Our leaders clearly need to set a good example, as well as to plant the seeds in our youth on how to get ahead out there. But there’s no substitute for close knit families and strong family values to keep kids out of trouble and steered in the right direction.

    hmmmm, I wonder what kind of coffee they serve in prison..

  • 3 webmaster // Sep 27, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I bet it is some generic brand coffee that tastes like sludge. But rest assured, I’m sure that they do serve coffee. Addicts need their caffeine fix. Regardless, I hope that less of our people have to sample jailhouse java.

    Wouldn’t it be nicer to be sipping coffee in college while talking about all of the exciting things to do and learn?

  • 4 barista // Sep 27, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    I whole heartedly agree webmaster. In fact, that’s what got me through college, and now I serve coffee for a living and help others with their addiction! lol =) Sludge. Ugh. Sludge is for jailbirds..

  • 5 The Kaiser // Sep 28, 2007 at 12:39 am

    There’s very little effort on the part of the State of California Department of Corrections to rehabilitate jailed offenders. The United States as a whole has the largest per capita percentage of their population in prisons on the planet. And prisoners of color outnumber WASP inmates nearly three to one despite being the minority population. The only public housing built in the last ten years in the United States has been jail cells. This clearly demonstrates one of the objectives of race and social class warfare now practiced exclusively in the United States. The only way Latinos can empower themselves, and avoid this social deterrent is through higher education and social achievement. There is no other path. Spending time with your Homies, just gets more and more dangerous everyday.

  • 6 leesee // Sep 28, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    The governor just signed a bill that puts non-violent offenders in a re-entry program right before they get out of prison, it’s only once space in the dept of corrections. It makes the governor look good, as if he’s trying to help, but it is such a small effort it’s almost comical.
    I think thug culture is glorified by kids and teenagers that don’t know anything about anything; you can’t imagine the battle to buy normal clothes at the store instead of gang “like” clothing.
    Education had turned out to be a privelege instead of a right in America, that saddens me like nothing else. I work at a university and it has been my life’s work to get latinos, African American and low income kids to graduate, in other words when they get here they actually succeed.
    It sets my teeth on edge to realize more ethnic youth go to prison or the CYA instead of college, however I understand how they got there.

  • 7 webmaster // Sep 28, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Leesee, I too believe that when the bar is raised, we rise to the occasion. The whole trick is getting the kids to graduate HS and have decent enough grades to get into a college. And of course, we have to retain and graduate them from there.

    I wonder the extent that dressing in “gang” like clothes and even flirting with this underworld lifestyle impacts even those kids who are getting passing grades in school. I went to school in an upper middle class area, and I had a friend in HS who came from a good family with a good income, a Latina, but she insisted on wearing baggy jeans, pendleton shirts, and partying in the barrio. It was baffling to a degree because she not need to live this way.

  • 8 Oscar // Sep 29, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    This is a topic that fires me up! I grew up in the Barrios myself, and currently oversee a 6 county program that empowers Latino/a youth, who drop out of school or never attended U.S schooling.
    As humans we all want to feel a sense of belonging. For minority youth, this social phenomona becomes more powerful. Especially true for youth are trying to identify themselves to our changing crazy but beautiful world. Many youth form close knits and families to their gangs or social groups. For many minorities this is a survival natural mode in their environments where there is poverty, drugs, violence, gangs, discrimination, lack of resources, and a sense of hopelessness. We have to realize that we live in an English system of laws and social economic values, that is unfair to many minorities, and therefore many minorities don’t relate to. Unfortunately, these youth form their own social systems which could be negative lifestyles that tend to lead to negative consequences, like prisons or death.
    I feel their is not an equal access to education for minorities in our higher education systems. So education is not the only answer my friends! Although more minorities are educating themselves and graduating from higher education, which is beautiful! I still think that higher education systems are not doing enough, only when it benefits there institutions like there sports programs etc. Our education systems are run like businesses and therefore don’t truly reach out to the people in our low income communities. I have rarely seen or heard of higher education outreach people reach out to the people in the hoods or barrios. Although there are certain higher institutions that do, it is rare. There is this scared judgemental perception of people in gangs or in our low income neighborhoods. This is also true for the general population and therefore people never make a difference.
    When you talk to youth in gangs, don’t judge them, show them respect, and are there to empower/help, they will respect you. I have talked to many youth who have dreams and goals like you and I. They want to better themselves and it saddens me to know the current realities of our juvenile halls, jails, and prisons. It is difficult to make tremendous change when the perception of people in our society illicits these judgemental views. It also is a challenge when the distribution of resources in our capitalistic economic system is unequal to minorities in impoverished areas in our communities.
    Athough I’m a realist I’m also an optimist :) We need to make our voices heard through action as leaders that we all are. Your don’t have to be a public figure or a Hollywood actor to be a leader!!! We need to change our perception and look at our gang issues and community issues as our challenge. We need to support and volunteer our gifts and talents, whatever that might be, to non-profit organizations that work in our communities and lack the resources and man/woman power. We have to advocate through voice or vote for better rehabilitation programs in our communities. Former rehabilitated gang members can truly connect and make a difference with youth and adults. We can all mentor youth through coordinated programs or on our own. Together with and open mind and open heart we can all make a difference and plant the seed of hope for people in our world!!!!

  • 9 webmaster // Sep 30, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Oscar, thank you for your response.

    I agree that you don’t have to be a celebrity to be a leader, but my point in mentioning Bill Cosby was to show that he got people within his community and in the larger American audience talking about this issue. He put the issue of black youth in crime on the national radar for a little while, and we don’t even have that. George Lopez gets a bit political at times, but he doesn’t have the mouth or credibility that Cosby does.

    This morning I saw this article about how the CA prisons compete w/ the CSU system for resources:

  • 10 PMG! // Oct 4, 2007 at 5:27 am

    I know, but SHOULD George Lopez be a spokesperson for our community? I would perfer someone who was public, but who has a broader idea on Chicano History and experience. The only person who I think comes close to a truly ‘credible’ spokes person is Jorge Ramos, who thankfully has always written and spoken his mind. But still, he’s very much “Mexican” rather than “Mexican American”

    As for Cesar Chavez… I’m sure the poor of India are also waiting for the next Teresa. Sometimes certain people happen once in century. But Cesar rose from a system, and that system still exisits. It’s up to us to get involved in with those ideals and fight for social justice, in what little ways can. That is what Cesar would want…. ;)

  • 11 webmaster // Oct 4, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    PMG, George Lopez probably shouldn’t be a spokesperson for our community, but in mentioning him, I was trying to illustrate that we don’t have such a person who brings issues to the national agenda in a way that gets people of all ethnic groups talking. Bill Cosby, while being most recognized as an entertainer, holds an Ed.D. in Education from UMass. He is educated, recognizable, a published author, and someone who “White America” knows.

    We seem to lack this kind of leadership. You are right in that we can’t wait around for the next leader, but we have to try to groom the younger generations to take a stand.

  • 12 Michaelr // Oct 4, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Isn’t this sad… Forty million of us in the United States, and we can’t think of one spokesman to represent our community. I’ve always admired Gloria Molina’s industry and ability to evade political scandal. Something most politicians have a terrible time with. However, she isn’t much of a public speaker. How about Steve Lopez at the Los Angeles Times? He seems to have an edgy opinion on everything.

  • 13 EYES OF TEXAS // Oct 16, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Isn’t this sad… Millions of Anglo-Americans in the United States, and we can’t think of one spokesman to represent our community. Does that sound pretty racist to you? If you are a legal American citizen, then you are represented by the same folks that represent all American citizens. You keep trying to place yourself in a special interest group instead of standing up and proclaiming yourself an American. If it is not enough for you to be a citizen of the greatest nation on earth, you are always free to go where you can be better represented. If you are not a legal citizen of America, then disregard everything I have just said and go back to your country of origin and apply for legal entry into the United States of America. You will be welcomed with open arms and respect for your willingness to do it the legal way. God Bless America and all patriots fighting to save her.

  • 14 webmaster // Oct 16, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Eyes of Texas, you have many Anglo-American representatives. What about your fellow statesman, GWB?

    I am going to tell you a little story. I’m American, as American as they come. Born and raised in the USA, I just happen to have a Latino/Chicano/Mexican/Native American or whatever you want to call it background. Anglos often ask me, “What are you?” When I reply “American.” They then ask, “No, but where did you come from? Or where did you parents come from?” I then tell them that I and my parents were born in the USA. Then, they keep asking and probing deeper asking where my grandparents were born, etc. It is never good enough for them when I reply “American.” This isn’t anything new. I’m sure others on this board can speak to this kind of questioning. “America” is not monolithic. Why do you fail to see this?

  • 15 EYES OF TEXAS // Oct 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    WM, you are a second generation American, yet you oversee this very excellent blog pertaining to issues that may not affect you personally. I am from Scotish/Irish/English/American Indian(how, I don’t know) stock and I don’t wear a kilt, or believe in leprechauns, or bow to the Queen and I sure don’t smok’um peace pipe. All of these things are part of my ancestors culture, not mine. True, my ancestors arrived in America long before there was immigration laws and assimilated to the culture that existed in this nation at that time. But, today I still run across third and fourth generation immigrants that continue to hold on to the ways of their country of origin and still can not speak proper English. My stand is on borders, language and culture. If these can not be preserved, there will be no America. I have, and will continue to fight to save a crumbling America.

  • 16 webmaster // Oct 16, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Eyes of Texas, I am not a second generation American, more like a sixth or seventh generation American. I shouldn’t have to explain my ethnic background to every “American” who cares to hear the story. I speak and write in proper English. I will always be proud of where my ancestors came from, but many Anglos don’t care to accept me into the American fold. You can probably make a similar argument for blacks and African-Americans.

    What exactly is “American” culture?

    Also, by the time someone is a third or fourth generation American, they cease their “immigrant” status.

    If you want to look at the statistics, a minority of fourth generation Latinos even speak Spanish fluently.

    Check this out:

    And look at the research by UC Irvine Professor Ruben Rumbaut. And don’t tell me that UC Irvine is a liberal college, far from it!

  • 17 Michaelr // Oct 16, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Eyes of Texas: I identified myself as that for the first eighteen years of my life and was reminded to the contrary by all those offering jobs, writing traffic tickets, and those seeking information for this and that. That ignorance you spew conveys to me that you’ve never read out loud the word…minority. Or why it’s so extensively used by the federal government, the media, law-enforcement, and public school textbooks to describe the other groups of Americans that sweat and die to create the fabric of this country. Or maybe you’re familiar with the word…exclusive; especially since it was in Texas that I first encountered white only restrooms, and drinking fountains, as recently as the early 1980s. It’s all so hypocritical, but of course you know that. You just enjoy condescending to that fact. We’re all Americans when Sgt. Morales is killed in a fire fight in Iraq, or when Jose Reyes wins the welterweight boxing gold medal at the Olympics. However, when it comes to equal job opportunities, equal access to higher education, and equal representation in courts of law, we’re not Americans on your level…are we?

  • 18 Frank // Oct 17, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Webmaster, many Americans are asked that same question, not just Hispanics. People are just curious about what country you or your ancestors originated from. It is not a big deal. It doesn’t mean that the person asking is insinuating that you are not an American.

    White Americans don’t feel they need someone to represent them from their race. We consider ourselves just Americans. Skin color, race, ethnicty is irrelevant.

    Michael, why do you bring up the past? It isn’t like that today. Are you and yours going to play victim forever? I find some minorities such as Hispanics that are still holding grudges against whites for hundreds of years even though they weren’t even alive back then and neither are the whites that are living today who are the targets of their resentments and hate.

    Questions of race, etc. are usually asked by our government for affirmative action purposes. Its to your advantage.

  • 19 webmaster // Oct 17, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    White Americans don’t feel the need for someone to represent them based upon their race because they (white America) dominates the power structure. Maybe when the tide continues to turn and white Americans become a minority, then they will be asking similar questions.

    Frank, if we really considered ourselves “just Americans” as you suggest, then people would not begin to ask me where my ancestors came from because it would be irrelevant. Look at what you just wrote above.

    As far as bringing up the past, racism in the world has a historical context. It has evolved. I don’t think that we are playing the victims, if that was the case, we would not look inward at our own faults, like this article suggests. If there isn’t any more racism today, then why do we see have the Jena Six, disparities in housing and mortgage lending, de facto segregation in our neighborhoods and schools, etc.?

  • 20 Oscar // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:23 am

    I believe EYE of Texas and Frank are living in a fantasy sheltered world where everyone is equal and all people have equal access to resources, civil rights, individual representation, etc. But yet “we are all equal Americans”. Frank, White Americans don’t feel they need to represent themselves because as WB mentioned, they dominate the power structure. I travel throughout the U.S as an Educator and I’m also asked what my ethnic background, as if I’m from a different country. I’m a Counselor and I know when someone is genuine or asking me because they quickly judge me based on a Fox, Lou Dobbs perception. Frank I agree, many people are just curious and want to learn. But we have down right ignorant people also who call themselves “Americans” and have judge mental ethnocentric views. I feel bad for these people and have love for them. I tend to recommend National Geographic or a Purpose Driven Life materials so they can open up their eyes and heart to the beauty of themselves, the world, and people :) Have you and Eye of Texas linked up to this awesome materials?

    In terms of using the race card Frank, which you tend to use. To avoid the historical context and present issues of inequality in race would be an insult to African Americans, Blacks, Muslims, Irish, Latinos, Gays, Native groups, etc. If we really want to feel American, then let’s use Native peoples to represent us in politics, magazines, Hollywood, etc, oops I forgot you and Eye of Texas feel that we “Americans” are all truly equal.

    Finally, my friend, I did not miss your final statement about affirmative action. Again here we go again with this enabler rhetoric. The great warriors, leaders, and survivors are those that confront life and confront fear and do so with an attitude of gratitude and tolerance. People who accept people for who they are, and lend a hand, for we all need each other!! See I don’t have hatred or hold grudges! :). As the song by Depeche Mode says “People are People”. We are all different and unique and that is what makes America beautiful!!!

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