Immigrants Don't End Up in Prison

From a Public Policy Institute of California comes a study finding that immigrants, legal and illegal, in California are not more likely to show up in prison than native-born Americans. Some findings:

• Foreign-born men make up about 35 percent of the state's adult male population, but they are roughly 17 percent of the state's overall prison inmates.

• U.S.-born men are jailed in state prisons at a rate more than three times higher than foreign-born men and are 10 times more likely to land behind bars.

• Male Mexican nationals ages 18 to 40 - those more likely to have entered the country illegally - are more than eight times less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be imprisoned.

• Those who entered the country when they were 1 year old or younger make up about 0.8 percent of those institutionalized.

The low crime rate among foreign-born Californians can be seen in the crime tallies for cities such as Burbank, Glendale and Norwalk, which large proportions of the state's immigrant population call home.

From 2000 to 2005, those cities experienced crime dips far greater than cities with smaller immigrant populations.

More here, courtesy of San Jose Merc-News.

I haven't read the actual study, whose summary at least counters the notion that immigrants are the Professor Moriaritys of crime in America. And whose main point is consistent with other studies on the issue.

Alas, Tony Montana, the world was yours.

reason on immigration here.

Update: I added the actual link to the SJMN story above. Some commenters below ask whether deportations deflate the number of immigrant prisoners. The study, which again I haven't read, apparently takes something like that into consideration. See this SF Chron summary.

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  • Taktix®||

    Yes, but nearly 100% of the IllegalMexicans in our prisons are of HispanicOrigin.

    So there...

  • ||

    Solution...deport the natives!!

  • obviously||

    It's cuz they're wily.

  • Brutum Fulmen||

    I see. So immigrants are better at hiding their crimes?

  • TR||

    Micheal, can you let me off the hook?

  • ||

    is the statistic skewed by the number of convicted non-citizens who are deported instead of imprisoned?

  • stuartl||

    Nick -- it looks like you left off the link to story in the San Jose Merc-News.

    I'm curious because some of these numbers are so good that you have to wonder if there is under-reporting of crime in immigrant communities. 8 times less likely to be imprisoned seems too good to be true.

    Not that I think immigrants are likely to be criminal, but I don't expect them to be paragons of virtue either.

  • stuartl||

    edna, deportation instead of imprisonment makes sense. I wonder if there are corrected numbers.

  • Abdul||

    Another factor may be that crimes committed by illegal aliens are often committed against illegal aliens who make ideal victims because they are less likely to report the crime to the police. Although i don't think this would account for the entire disparity.

  • Jesus||

    Not that I think immigrants are likely to be criminal, but I don't expect them to be paragons of virtue either.

    *ahem

  • ||

    Personally, I would think that if you went through the entire process of going to another country (legally or illegally), allegedly in pursuit of a better life, that you wouldn't want to risk your prospects for success by committing crimes (even minor ones). But maybe I'm just projecting here.

  • Christopher Columbus||

    You have nothing to fear from illegal immigrants. You should wecome us.

  • Fluffy||

    On the deportation issue - I thought it was our policy to make illegals who commit non-immigration crimes serve their sentences before they are deported.

  • ||

    Fluffy,
    But considering the number of recidivist criminals in jail, deporting them would still make the immigrant prison population look smaller than their proportion on crimes committed.

  • Fluffy||

    Ouch, Mo, you're asking me to visualize math in my head. That hurts!

    So you're saying that the native-born prison population accumulates like driftwood, washing into prison in successive waves, while the non-native prison population is one-and-done?

    I suppose that might have an impact.

  • An adam||

    Cue Lonewacko spluttering outrage in 3, 2, 1...

  • Watson off his meds.||

    It's all about intelligence. Stupid people don't come here fleeing some shithole country and prosper. Smart people born in the US finish school and do OK.

    Stupid people born in this country have nothing else but to make bad "get rich quick" decisions which either land them in jail or in a variable rate mortgage they can't afford.

    Thank god for Roe vs. Wade!

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    Sort of. If immigrant and native populations both have the same probability (p) of committing a crime and there's a subpopulation of repeat criminals that have a probability of q* of committing a crime. Let's also assume that both natives and immigrants have an equal likelihood of being arrested.

    Even if the repeat population makes up the same proportion of each population at t=0, eventually the subpopulation in the immigrant community will get whittled down as they get deported. With fewer people in the q population, the overall immigrant population looks more law abiding due to the criminal element being shipped off.

    * Hypothetically, let's say q = 7p

  • ||

    Here's a theory: the criminal predatory element that exists in communities with lots of Paperwork-Deprived America-Joiners know that they can commit crimes with impunity within that community, because their victims and neighbors won't call the police.

    Sure, restrictive immigration laws are reeeeeeeaaaaaalllllll good for law and order.

  • Curious||

    I'd like to know what kind of crimes these prisoners committed. Are they violent property crimes, or victimless drug or protitution related crimes?

  • ||

    Male Mexican nationals ages 18 to 40 - those more likely to have entered the country illegally - are more than eight times less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be imprisoned.

    Am I the only one who gets annoyed by that construction and thinks using "one-eighth likely" makes a lot more sense?

  • ed||

    Foreign-born men...are roughly 17 percent of the state's overall prison inmates.

    Immigrants Don't End Up in Prison

    Clearly some of them do.

  • ||

    Not surprising at all. They are too busy working the jarbs they stole from red-blooded Americuns!

  • ||

    Male Mexican nationals ages 18 to 40 - those more likely to have entered the country illegally - are more than eight times less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be imprisoned.

    Am I the only one who gets annoyed by that construction and thinks using "one-eighth likely" makes a lot more sense?



    No. You aren't.

  • Hormone Cow||

    Watson of his meds -

    I've wondered similar things...

    Moving to a foreign land means having saving money for travel costs, leaving your friends and family, being immersed in a different language and strange culture, etc.

    It's not for the lazy or timid. If you are willing to do all this, for what are primarily economic reasons, it may act as a sort of selection mechanism which ensures that people who come here are smarter and more hard working than average.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet but I can't get my head around this:

    17% of male prisoners are foreign born

    US born men are 10 times more likely to go to jail

    65% of the adult male population is ten times more likely to go to jail than 35% of the adult male foreign born population yet 17% of the jail population is foreign born.

    I'm missing something I think.

    The other thing left out of the equation is that the crime prone folks are the second generation, not the immigrants.

  • ||

    John-David,
    No, you're not the only one who gets annoyed at those things. I have a major problem every time I see grammatical errors or poor writing in something professionally published.

  • GILMORE||

    didnt i link to congressional testimony by a Rutgers prof saying much the same a while back?...

    oh yeah, here

    judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Piehl070517.pdf

    this is old news.

    Plus, the phrasing above is misleading =

    "Immigrants, legal and illegal,...are not more likely to show up in prison than native-born Americans"

    The accurate statement is that all studies show immigrants (and immigrant communities) to be UNDER indexing average americans in criminality and incarceration rates.

    this is also a year+ old here =

    http://www.ailf.org/ipc/special_report/sr_022107.pdf

    Whats the deal?

    I suspect ReasonStaff twists these statistics to ameliorate their potential impact on certain SensitiveReaders who are current 10 seconds away from FireBombing this thread with a screed that will almost certainly include the term "lightweight hacks"

  • GILMORE||

    The other thing left out of the equation is that the crime prone folks are the second generation, not the immigrants.

    Hmm.

    Doesnt that make them Americans?

    You got any data on that homes? just curious

  • Rhywun||

    Doesnt that make them Americans?

    SomePeople don't care. The sins of the children are visited upon the father. Or something.

  • thoreau||

    I think we need to lock up more of them. They broke our laws just by coming here.

    But no free ride for them. No, if you cross the border illegally, you should have to WORK for your keep in prison. Illegal immigrants serving sentence can pay for their room and board by mowing lawns, washing dishes, picking crops, and working construction.

  • Neu Mejican||

    more than eight times less likely...Am I the only one who gets annoyed by that construction and thinks using "one-eighth likely" makes a lot more sense?

    I will only support your version with the addition of "as."

    To review:
    "more than eight times less likely" is better than "one-eighth likely" by virtue of being grammatical.

    I look forward to discovering the error I have made in this post about grammatical error.

  • ||

    Click and learn.....?

    Where are you?

  • ||

    ""thoreau | February 26, 2008, 11:37am | #
    I think we need to lock up more of them. They broke our laws just by coming here.

    But no free ride for them. No, if you cross the border illegally, you should have to WORK for your keep in prison. Illegal immigrants serving sentence can pay for their room and board by mowing lawns, washing dishes, picking crops, and working construction.


    psss, whatever,

    I think they should be made to study physics.

  • Neu Mejican||

    So is "less than one-eighth as likely" better than "more than eight times less likely?"

    Show of hands?

    They seem to have slightly different semantic emphasis, framing the difference differently.

  • ||

    I think they should be made to study physics.

    Come on, have a little mercy! Can't we just waterboard 'em?

  • GILMORE||

    kwais | February 26, 2008, 11:42am | #
    Click and learn.....?

    Where are you?


    Bear-(or retard)-baiting is cruel and wrong. It's one thing when he makes an ass out of himself of his own volition. Not unlike laughing at the dog who has a fetish for humping your mother-in-laws leg. But thats different than like, enticing the thing to do it by rubbing t-bone steak all over her nylons.

    I think this analogy has gone way too far.

    You get my point. It's not funny! it's sad and pathetic.

  • ||

    I look forward to discovering the error I have made in this post about grammatical error.

    Shouldn't the last word end in "s"?

  • ||

    Burn them.

  • ||

    Let me get this straight. Immigrants make up 35% of the male population, but 17% of the OVERALL prison population. So wouldn't "overall" include women prison population as well? Thus their share of the adult male prison population might be a bit larger.

  • ||

    I'll add to GILMORE's impression that this finding is unsurprising and, in fact, well known to those who follow immigration issues. Even the 8-to-1 ratio sounds awfully familiar.

    The standard retort is, as GILMORE notes, to point to their children and their children's children.

  • ||

    Prisoners are in prison because of crimes they committed in the past, usually several years in the past. It seems reasonable to assume that immigrants have spent less time in the US in the past for them to have committed crimes and been sentenced.

    An honest researcher would have looked at all the crimes committed in a given period.

  • hypersensitive one||

    So is "less than one-eighth as likely" better than "more than eight times less likely?"

    Show of hands?

    They seem to have slightly different semantic emphasis, framing the difference differently.



    Yes. The more direct construction connotes octoroon stuff. And...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Shouldn't the last word end in "s"?

    That depends.

    1)Is it a post about grammatical error as a category of behavior?

    2)Or is it a post about multiple grammatical errors?

    3)Or is is a post about a single grammatical error.

    1 - no mistake
    2 - mistake should be "grammatical errors"
    3 - mistake should be "a grammatical error"

  • Neu Mejican||

    Punctuation errors, that's a whole nuther matter...

  • ||

    Am I the only one who gets annoyed by that construction and thinks using "one-eighth likely" makes a lot more sense?


    Yes.

  • ||

    is the statistic skewed by the number of convicted non-citizens who are deported instead of imprisoned?


    Yes.

  • ||

    Immigration officials are increasingly scouring jails and courts nationwide and reviewing years-old criminal records to identify deportable immigrants, efforts that have contributed to a steep rise in deportations and strained the immigration court system.

    Long accused of failing to do enough to deport illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, federal authorities have recently strengthened partnerships with local corrections systems and taken other steps to monitor immigrants facing charges, officials said.



    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/26/AR2008022603705.html?hpid=topnews

  • ||

    Immigration officials are increasingly scouring jails and courts nationwide and reviewing years-old criminal records to identify deportable immigrants, efforts that have contributed to a steep rise in deportations and strained the immigration court system.



    Well, count me as someone who thinks this is a better tactic than scouring rooming houses where criminal immigrants might be found and netting all the noncriminal illegal immigrants discovered in the process.

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