Hispanics Now the Majority Sent to Federal Prison

Big demographic shift attributable to immigration offenses
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2011 6:39 AM CDT
Hispanics Now the Majority Sent to Federal Prison
This Nov. 12, 2001 photo shows the interior of a cell block at the Thomson Correctional in Thomson, Ill.   (AP Photo/The Dispatch, Todd Mizener, File)

With immigration offenses on the rise, more than half of those sent to federal prison for felonies this year are Hispanic. Though Hispanics already outnumbered other ethnic groups in that category, this is the first year they have been the majority of such offenders, the AP reports. A new government report shows that Hispanics made up 50.3% of people sentenced during the first nine months of this fiscal year, whites 26.4%, and blacks 19.7%. Hispanics were just 16% of the entire US population last year.

Felony immigration crimes including illegal crossing and alien smuggling, among others, are responsible for much of the increase over the past 10 years. "Statistics like this have to start drawing attention to this country's immigration policies and what we're doing, if this is one of the results," says one expert. "The implications for Hispanics are huge when you think of the number of families affected by having their breadwinners put away for what in some cases would be considered a non-violent offense." (More jail stories.)

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