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Latino youth are 65 percent more likely to be detained or committed than their white peers, according to data from the Department of Justice collected in October 2015 and recently released.1)This Fact Sheet addresses Latino-white placement disparities. Fact sheets on African American and Native youth disparities are available at www.sentencingproject.org. While this disparity is concerning, the data represent a modest improvement from 2001, when Latino youth were 73 percent more likely to be in placement. The Latino disparity is smaller than that for African American youth, who are 500 percent more likely than white youth to be detained or committed.2)Rovner, J. (2017, September 12). Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration.

These data should be viewed with caution due to limitations and variation in collection of Latino data throughout the justice system.3)Eppler-Epstein, S., Gurvis, A., & King, R. (2016, December 13). The Alarming Lack of Data on Latinos in the Criminal Justice System. In some states there is likely an undercount of Latinos, who are labeled as white, reducing the reported rate of ethnic disparity. In other states, improvements in the collection of Latino data between 2001 and 2015 implies worsening ethnic disparities though actually reflecting growing accuracy of data.

Juvenile facilities, including 1,800 residential treatment centers, detention centers, training schools, and juvenile jails and prisons4)Hockenberry, S., Wachter, A., & Sladky, A. (Sept. 2016). Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2014: Selected Findings (NCJ 250123). held 48,043 youth as of October 2015.5)Placement statistics throughout this factsheet are calculated from Sickmund, M., Sladky, T.J., Kang, W., & Puzzanchera, C. (2017). “Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement.” Twenty-two percent of these youth were Latino. In 37 states Latino youth are more likely to be in custody than white youth.

Between 2001 and 2015, overall juvenile placements fell by 54 percent, including declines for whites, blacks, and Latinos. But since white placements fell to a greater degree (64 percent) than the other groups, racial and ethnic disparities increased from the start of the century even as the overall figures were declining.

Latino youth’s placement rate was 142 per 100,000, 65 percent higher than white youth’s placement rate of 86 per 100,000. Ethnic disparities grew in 20 states, did not change in one, and decreased in 28.6)Due to inconsistent data from South Carolina in 2001, that state is not counted in this analysis.

  • In eight states, Latino youth are at least three times as likely to be held in placement as are white youth: Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina, Montana, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Rhode Island.
  • Three states saw their Latino/white disparity more than double: Maryland, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Latino/White Youth Placement Rate per 100,000 (2015)
State White Rate Latino Rate L/W Racial Disparity
Alabama 97 93 0.96
Alaska 176 46 0.26
Arizona 75 81 1.08
Arkansas 93 96 1.03
California 76 180 2.37
Colorado 108 227 2.1
Connecticut 14 47 3.36
Delaware 42 95 2.26
District of Columbia 0 0
Florida 97 45 0.46
Georgia 42 45 1.07
Hawaii 36 16 0.44
Idaho 179 270 1.51
Illinois 44 65 1.48
Indiana 154 143 0.93
Iowa 141 215 1.52
Kansas 114 192 1.68
Kentucky 76 55 0.72
Louisiana 61 55 0.9
Maine* 56 0 0
Maryland 30 52 1.73
Massachusetts 22 172 7.82
Michigan 96 134 1.4
Minnesota 75 130 1.73
Mississippi* 32 0 0
Missouri 112 100 0.89
Montana 113 393 3.48
Nebraska 123 335 2.72
Nevada 131 160 1.22
New Hampshire 47 93 1.98
New Jersey 11 55 5
New Mexico 86 204 2.37
New York 54 70 1.3
North Carolina 22 30 1.36
North Dakota 135 173 1.28
Ohio 98 109 1.11
Oklahoma 84 72 0.86
Oregon 235 330 1.4
Pennsylvania 93 312 3.35
Rhode Island 97 292 3.01
South Carolina 89 335 3.76
South Dakota 162 135 0.83
Tennessee 65 122 1.88
Texas 94 138 1.47
Utah 73 237 3.25
Vermont* 46 0 0
Virginia 59 143 2.42
Washington 88 136 1.55
West Virginia* 301 238 0.79
Wisconsin 56 128 2.29
Wyoming 243 297 1.22
U.S. Total 86 142 1.65
* In Maine, Mississippi, Vermont and West Virginia, Latino youth comprise less than five percent of all youth.
Change in Latino/White Racial Disparity in Youth Incarceration, 2001 vs. 2015
latino racial disparities graph for website

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