Latinos and the Death Penalty Debate

October 10th, 2011 · 7 Comments

Given the increasing Latino prison population and the recent news and commentary surrounding the Troy Davis case, I thought I would share this piece. One reason why Latinos may want to study up on the death penalty issue involved how our population is already treated in the judicial system. As this piece points out:

“This mass incarceration, which harms families and communities, and the racial disparities, underscore the fact that major reforms are needed to change the way police operate in communities of color, and how people of color are treated by prosecutors, judges and juries.

One overlooked fact is that many African American and Latino defendants are poorer than white defendants and cannot afford attorneys that have the resources to properly defend them against better-resourced prosecutors.”

What are your thoughts? Should Latino civil rights organizations pay more attention to incarceration issues and the death penalty?

Tags: Crime · Prison

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anna // Oct 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    They should insist that governments stop contracting with for-profit prisons. The influence of for-profit prisons is the primary reason that incarceration rates have increased so much over the last few decades. More bodies in prison equals higher profits. Private prison such as CCA were also behind SB1070.

    Yes, Latino politicans need to take a stand on this issue, but I won’t hold my breath. The only one who ever speaks up and who doesn’t seem deferential and subservient is Luis Gutierrez. But that’s our fault. We should recruit better canditates and not wait for the Democratic Party to do it.

    On another note, did anybody happen to read in the LA Times about the Mexican Museum championed by Gloria Molina? She donated 14 million of her district’s discretionary funds to its creation, but today it lacks a steady stream of funding and might close.

    Why is she spending money on museums instead of education, health care and small business? Most museums are funded by billionaires, not people in poverty. People need the basics: jobs, education, healthcare. Take care of business!

    She doesn’t know what she’s doing. Time for her to be voted out and replaced by somebody better.

    Oh yeah, she wants to sue the LA County Board of Supervisors to create a second Latino majority district. Why??

    Right now it’s 3-2, with Molina and Ridley-Thomas being the two. After the new district is created it will still be 3-2, but Ridley-Thomas will vote with Yaroslavsky and Antonovich. Anybody can see that one coming. Anybody but Gloria!

  • 2 chalan // Oct 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The death penalty does not serve as a deterant and it places us at the same level as the murderer. Recent studies show that it is more expensive to execute a murderer then to incarcerate them for the rest of their lives. Lets eliminate the death penalty and devote more time to prevention and rehabilitation.

  • 3 Justine // Oct 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Most definitely! The death penalty is a human rights issue and everyone should be concerned but as is pointed out, the majority of those incarcerated are black and latino. The criminal and judicial system is skewed and easily influences by racial profiling and stereotypes that, for example, determine judgments reached in trials by jury. Not to mention, identification cases! It is our responsibility as Latinos and members of a marginalized community to advocate for more conscious legislation and reform.

  • 4 HispanicPundit // Oct 23, 2011 at 9:16 am


    The problem isn’t “for-profit” prisons, the problem is unions. See here:

    For a case study in how public-sector unions manipulate both supply and demand, consider the example of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the CCPOA lobbied the state government to increase California’s prison facilities — since more prisons would obviously mean more jobs for corrections officers. And between 1980 and 2000, the Golden State constructed 22 new prisons for adults (before 1980, California had only 12 such facilities). The CCPOA also pushed for the 1994 “three strikes” sentencing law, which imposed stiff penalties on repeat offenders. The prison population exploded — and, as intended, the new prisoners required more guards. The CCPOA has been no less successful in increasing members’ compensation: In 2006, the average union member made $70,000 a year, and more than $100,000 with overtime. Corrections officers can also retire with 90% of their salaries as early as age 50. Today, an amazing 11% of the state budget — more than what is spent on higher education — goes to the penal system. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now proposes privatizing portions of the prison system to escape the unions’ grip — though his proposal has so far met with predictable (union supported) political opposition.

    This is precisely why “for-profits” have been created – to help mitigate some of their enormous and destructive power.

  • 5 Anna // Oct 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I agree that the prison guards union is problematic, but prison privatization is not a cure. Corporate owners of private prisons will lobby just as hard as any union, but they have even deeper pockets with which to bribe our elected officials. For instance, the private prison corporation CCA was one of the groups behind SB 1070.

    I think the real problem, especially in CA is apathy. The government is siphoning money from education and funeling it to the prisons, yet there is little or no outcry from the majority of the population, especially the students themselves.

    There is no reason why an education lobby cannot become more powerful than those groups that lobby on behalf of prison expansion.

    I see lots of organizing for an immigration reform bill that won’t ever pass, but not much for schools.

  • 6 HispanicPundit // Oct 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Both groups will lobby, but atleast the private prisons are cheaper and have to compete with other private entities that lobby to NOT increase prisons.

    Unions, on the other hand, get a choke hold on government and you either vote with them, or they vote you out.

    Private prisons are certainly not “the answer”, but they go in the right direction. Kinda like charter schools with public school unions.

  • 7 Anna // Nov 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Who says private prisons are cheaper? They might spend less on each prisoner but only because that money is going to a CEO. I would rather pay for a worker’s pension than for some CEO’s million dollar salary.

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