February 23, 2009

Pew Hispanic Center A rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime – illegal aliens represent 24% of all federal convictions, up from just 7% in 1991.

Posted by D.A. King at 11:25 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime

by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, and Michael T. Light, Pennsylvania State University

Complete Report HERE

Sharp growth in illegal immigration and increased enforcement of immigration laws have altered the ethnic composition of offenders sentenced in federal courts. In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders-more than triple their share (13%) of the total U.S. adult population. The share of all sentenced offenders who were Latino in 2007 was up from 24% in 1991, according to an analysis of data from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Moreover, by 2007, immigration offenses represented nearly one-quarter (24%) of all federal convictions, up from just 7% in 1991. Among those sentenced for immigration offenses in 2007, 80% were Hispanic.

This heightened focus on immigration enforcement has also changed the citizenship profile of federal offenders. In 2007, Latinos without U.S. citizenship represented 29% of all federal offenders. Among all Latino offenders, some 72% were not U.S. citizens, up from 61% in 1991. By contrast, a much smaller share of white offenders (8%) and black offenders (6%) who were sentenced in federal courts in 2007 were not U.S. citizens.

Among sentenced immigration offenders, most were convicted of unlawfully entering or remaining in the U.S. Fully 75% of Latino offenders sentenced for immigration crimes in 2007 were convicted of entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization.

Hispanics who were convicted of any federal offense were more likely than non-Hispanics to be sentenced to prison. But among all federal offenders sentenced to prison, Hispanics were also more likely than blacks or whites to receive a shorter prison term.

This report examines the ethnic, racial and citizenship status of sentenced offenders in federal courts. It is important to note that the federal courts represent a relatively small share of the overall criminal justice system in the United States. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2004 only 6% of all offenders sentenced for a felony were sentenced in a federal court; the remainder were sentenced in a state court.

The data for this report are from the United States Sentencing Commission’s Monitoring of Federal Criminal Sentences data files for fiscal years 1991 through 2007.

These files contain information on all federal court cases in which an offender was sentenced.
More on Demography:

Latinos Account for Half of U.S. Population Growth Since 2000