Tomorrow, Changing Gears reporter Niala Boodhoo looks at growth of the Latino population throughout the Midwest. The Latino population in the Midwest increased 49 percent over the last ten years. Niala looks at the implications of these population changes on the region’s economy.
One place that has seen a skyrocketing Latino population over the past 10 years has been the federal prison system.
Latinos represent 33.5 percent of the federal prison population, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, compared to about 16 percent of the overall U.S. population. Ten years ago, Latinos made up 15.6 percent of the prison population.
This increase in the number of Latino prisoners will have its own set of serious economic effects. The PEW Charitable Trusts found the economic mobility is severely impacted by time in prison. Ex-offenders also have a more difficult time finding a job than people who have never been incarcerated.
Federal prisons are located all over the country, and inmates in those facilities aren’t always from the states where the prisons are located. There are two federal prisons in Michigan, four in Illinois and three in Ohio.
Increased Latino representation in prison is being laid, primarily, at the doorstep of cops and courts taking a tougher stand on immigration. U.S citizens now only make up 73 percent of the federal prison population; citizens of South and Central America make up over 21 percent of that population.
Right now, the economy, particularly sectors like agriculture, are dependent on immigrant labor. The U.S economy as a whole is dependent on adding jobs and moving past the recession. For more Latinos than ever before, that will be harder to do.