If you're going to break the law--no matter how petty your offense--don't be Latino! Statistics in a recently released report show that in Multnomah County, Latinos who've committed the same types of crime and have the same criminal histories as white offenders are three times more likely to do time in the slammer.
The report, released by Latino Network, showed that in the case of minor crimes, 48 percent of white offenders will receive probation compared to just 11 percent of Latinos (the remainder receive jail time). In the case of felony crimes, 21 percent of whites are incarcerated compared to 60 percent of Latinos.
Who is responsible for this legally sanctioned discrimination? Often the judges responsible for sentencing have no other choice: While white offenders and their families are routinely diverted into therapy and support programs, these services are rarely offered in Spanish.
"There are some wonderful programs--programs that work--but they don't have a bilingual therapist, so how can they work with Latino families," says Miriam Calderon, a former case manager for Latino youth in the criminal justice system. Calderon adds that scant effort has been made to include young Latinos and their families in rehabilitation programs--robbing them of the opportunity to make good.
That hostility shows no signs of abating. With a budget shortfall and stiff competition for existing funds, the county won't be hiring bilingual staff for youth corrections programs this year. HELEN SILVIS
After falling a few thousand signatures short last year, the Police Accountability Campaign (PAC) is struggling once again to garner the requisite 28,000 signatures to place their initiative on the ballot next summer.
Despite repeated public outcries for more police accountability in Portland, petition efforts so far have been slow. Since beginning efforts in February, organizers have gathered 2,000 signatures; yet they remain optimistic. With over seven months until deadline, PAC remains focused on weekly community gatherings and education efforts to ignite their cause. If the lethargy continues, organizers expect to hit the streets with hired petitioners after May Day. JOSH WOODARD