ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando man plans to go to county leaders with an issue he said doesn’t paint a picture of who is truly behind bars in Orange County.
The local law student argues it’s a black-and-white issue with no in between.
“As one of my favorite law professors at FAMU said, dig, dig, dig,” said Phillip Arroyo.
While scrolling through the Orange County Jail booking report, he said he found a trend.
“I noticed the statistics showed the overwhelming majority of inmates were white,” he said.
Arroyo said what he found online was quite different from what he saw with his own eyes two years ago when he spent one night in jail for a traffic misdemeanor.
“And I noticed how a majority of the inmates were African-Americans or Latinos,” he said.
But you won’t see Latino or Hispanic on the booking report.
Inmates are listed by “W” for white, or “B” for black. Hispanic falls under the “W” category.
“I, as a Puerto Rican, believe that this is a very, very important issue,” said Arroyo.
He filed an online petition pushing for change, arguing that labeling Hispanics as whites doesn’t reflect the true percentage of people of color in jail, and doesn’t identify useful crime data to fix the county’s socio-economic challenges.
Orange County Corrections officials said, in part, “Our reporting is consistent with that used at the state level, as well as the federal level. The FBI classifies Hispanic as an ethnic indicator, not a race.”
Still, Arroyo and others plan to file into the Orange County Commission meeting next week to demand that ethnicity be included.
Although ethnicity isn’t included on daily booking reports, an Orange County Corrections spokesperson said it is still documented if it’s included in the arrest affidavit.
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