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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76984 Find in a Library
Title: Spanish-speaking People and the North American Criminal Justice System (From Race, Crime, and Criminal Justice, P 49-69, 1981, R L McNeely and Carl E Pope, ed. - See NCJ-76982)
Author(s): B J Bondavalli; B Bondavalli
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The unique needs of Spanish-speaking persons should be considered in their interaction with the police and the courts and in correctional programming.
Abstract: Spanish-speaking residents of the United States are frequently faced with socioeconomic and emotional pressures often associated with crime. Their income and educational levels are below average, and their residence in an unfamiliar culture deprives them of familiar cues and controls. The actual amount of crime in the Spanish-speaking community, however, has not been accurately determined. More data must be collected if significant questions regarding the nature and extent of crime in the Spanish-speaking community are to be answered. The available information suggests that there is need for considerable improvement in the handling of Spanish-speaking offenders because they are often distrustful of law enforcement officials, who, in turn, often misunderstand and sometimes mistreat Hispanic suspects. Police officers should be aware of cultural traits which might have an effect on interaction. For example, they can avoid problems when dealing with young Puerto Ricans who feel they have to resist authority when approached in a harsh, domineering way. Furthermore, the non-English-speaking defendant's right to counsel, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and to a fundamentally fair trial require the presence of an interpreter. The Supreme Court, however, has not ruled on the rights of non-English-speaking defendants, and several critical areas remain unclear. For example, provision of an interpreter at early stages of the criminal process (arrest, bail setting, preliminary hearing) has rarely been required. In addition, Spanish-speaking defendants who are found guilty present a special problem to correctional officials. Traditional therapy is often difficult to apply to them since the intimacies necessary in therapy are traditionally avoided by Hispanics. Thus, corrections officials should concentrate their efforts on behalf of Spanish-speaking offenders in the area of education. Also, correctional personnel must be made sensitive to cultural differences. The needs of Spanish-speaking individuals should be given serious consideration because their numbers are growing rapidly, and they are becoming more politically aware and aggressive. Case citations, statistical data, and about 40 references are included.
Index Term(s): Attitudes toward authority; Citizen grievances; Correctional reform; Court reform; Hispanic Americans; Hostility; Interpreter Services; Police reform; Resentment
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