Institute Statement on Latino Youth Incarceration Disparity Rates

New Jersey has one of the worst incarceration disparity rates for Latino youth in the country, according to The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheet. Latino youth in New Jersey are five times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated. This research comes just a few weeks after The Sentencing Project released a report showing that Black youth in New Jersey are more than 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers – the worst disparity rate in the country.

Institute President and CEO Ryan Haygood issued the following statement in response to The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheet:

“Once again, New Jersey leads the country in racial disparities. Latino kids are five times and Black kids are 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers. These disparities are not because children of color are more criminally culpable than white children. It is because of a racially discriminatory justice system that treats children of color as throwaway kids and disproportionately funnels them into prison. But we are clear on this point: There are no throwaway kids.  These staggering racial disparities are just one of the many reasons why we must close New Jersey’s youth prisons and reinvest in the creation of a youth justice system that treats all kids as kids, with limitless possibilities.”

Out of the 222 youth who are incarcerated in the state’s three youth prisons as of January 1, 2017, just 13 are white, 61 are “Hispanic,” and 148 are Black, according to a document received via an OPRA request by the Institute. 

In The Sentencing Project’s announcement, they noted that, “while the fact sheets only highlight incarceration disparities, differential treatment of youth of color – not differences in behaviors – drives the scale of the disparities.” This important point was echoed in Institute Associate Counsel Andrea McChristian’s recent OpEd for the Star Ledger in which she wrote that racial discrimination causes these disparities.

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