Latinos face countless barriers when they are arrested and imprisoned.

When Deacon Paulino Juarez, coordinator of the Incarcerated Family Assistance Ministry of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, a couple of county sheriff's agents, ordered him to stop his car in Paramount City and asked them, what was the reason if there was committed no lack of traffic, no more or more answered that because 'gave them a smell of weed ’.

"I told them, how was that accusation possible if I had the window glass closed, they were in the other corner and I don't use pot?"

After identifying himself as a chaplain for the men's prison in Los Angeles, the bailiffs apologized, but not before inspecting their vehicle.

Deacon Paulino Juarez meets with mothers with imprisoned children. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)

This incident showed the deacon what he already knew, that Latinos in Los Angeles are frequent targets of police operations and arrests by Sheriff's agents, simply because of discrimination and racial profiling.

“I complained and sent a report to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, but I never had an answer. And so I have many examples of detainees for no reason, just for being Latino. ”

Even his godson without committing a foul, was stopped by Sheriff's agents while driving a BMW car in Los Angeles. “Did you steal it? It was the first thing the Sheriff said.

According to the US Census, the 39% of prisoners in the California prison system are Latino.

At the Los Angeles County level, 50% of those arrested are Latino, 30% African American and 16% white.

These figures give us an idea that Spanish is spoken in many of our prisons and prisons, because it is the only language heard in courtyards.

Mothers with imprisoned children find comfort in the Ministry of Assistance to Incarcerated Family Members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.(Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)

María Elena Lamas, a Mexican immigrant whose 23-year-old grandson purges a seven-year sentence at Corcoran State Prison, believes that the education system in predominantly Latino neighborhoods is not fit to serve migrant children or children of immigrants.

“They are subject to bullying, discriminated against, marginalized. Right there in schools they offer them drugs, ”he says. "The problem in which school districts like Compton have no representation or Latino leadership on the boards."

This problem causes children and young people to become frustrated and fall into crime.

“The Compton community has been besieged and retaliated by sheriff's agents as it happened when they hit a sheriff a few years ago. Innocent neighbors without owing to it or fearing it suffer the resentment of the sheriff's agents, ”says María Elena. “I was even handcuffed to a patrol once. They set the heat to the top and went down. They opened the door when my daughter told them that I was about to pass out. ”

Sonia Pallavicini says that her son Isaac Pallavicini, 36, was killed in the cells of the Twin Towers prison in Los Angeles County, in September 2019. “My son was classified as a danger to society. He went in and out of jail. He had no mental illness. I only suffered from epilepsy, but they said it was schizophrenia. ”

Four months after her loss, this mother says she has not had an official explanation of what happened to her son. "The report said that he had died of suffocation, I believe there was a lack of medical attention and neglect," he laments.

Alicia Michel has the pain reflected in her face. Since 2015, two of his 26 and 25 year old children are in prison.

"My oldest son was sentenced to 148 years in prison, and the youngest of 25 years to life. They were accused of attempted murder, ”says the mother. “One night at four in the morning, the sheriff's officers arrived knocking down the door with a bomb. They took us all to the street, and took my children in detention. ”

Since then, Alicia has not stopped a day of fighting to be released because she is sure they are innocent. “My children were not well represented; and his unfair sentence is the result of the corruption of the sheriff and a judge. ”

The mother got last year, that the case of her eldest son sentenced to 148 years in prison was taken by the Loyola School of Innocents Project.

Mothers suffer for their imprisoned children. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)
Mothers suffer for their imprisoned children. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)

Deacon Juarez believes that the high number of Latinos in California prisons and prisons is the result of a set of situations that affect the family and it is not known how to handle them.

"They influence language, lack of papers, housing, health, discrimination, rejection of not being able to express their values, their culture and their faith," he adds.

In addition, Juarez says that financial need forces parents to resort to two or three jobs, and they forget their children, who in the absence of attention take refuge in gangs and drugs.

"Even the crowding in which they live in their homes, makes the boy go out to the street in search of a space and finds him in criminal groups," he laments.

Once in jail, they do not have access to a public defender or a lawyer to represent themEmphasize

This problem caused the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to found the Ministry of Assistance to Incarcerated Family Members of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace.

“It is an accompaniment to give them hope,” says Juarez.

But how to have hope when a child is sentenced to 148 years?

"Faith helps parents draw strength and strength to accompany their children in detention, and fight for their innocence when that is the case," says the deacon.

If Measure R is approved, more than 3,000 prisoners are expected to benefit. /Archive.

R measure

Los Angeles County prisons are the largest in the country and have a history of excessive imprisonment of people with mental illness, chronic homelessness and people with addictions, according to information on Measure R.

In the March 3 primary elections, Angels will have the opportunity to vote for the initiative “Los Angeles County Jail Reform“, A response to systematic corruption and structural oppression that has defined the lives of Latino and African-American residents, homeless people and those struggling with mental illness or disability in the county, many of whom cannot pay bail, according to measure documents .

A vote in favor of Measure R will force the county to invest in rehabilitation and mental health treatments, and will grant the Civil Surveillance Commission the power to investigate the misconduct of Sheriff's agents.

This measure will also force the development of a plan to reduce the population in prisons, and invest more in treatments against addictions, housing and mental health.

"The time is now to reform our largest prison system in the United States and eradicate the misconduct of the largest Sheriff's Department in the country," says Jasmyne Cannick, director of the campaign for Measure R.

"We hope to get a victory because people want it that way," he exclaims.

The Opinion sent an email to the sheriff to ask about the alleged cases of corruption, but at the end of this edition no response had been received.

For more information on Measure R, visit:


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