NOTE: For photo, please visit www.uh.edu/admin/media/nr/2006/09sept/ramiromartinez.html.
VISITING PROFESSOR AT UH TAKES AIM AT
HOUSTON LATINOS AND CRIME
Noted Criminologist Ramiro Martinez Will Research,
Teach at Center for Mexican American Studies
HOUSTON, Sept. 25, 2006—The new Visiting Scholar at the
University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies
(CMAS) wants to take a closer look at the Houston crime statistics.
Criminologist Ramiro Martinez says immigrants and immigration do
not increase demands on the criminal justice system.
“Latinos—immigrant and non-immigrant—are not
as crime-prone as portrayed in the recent media,” Martinez
said. “Houston’s crime statistics were examined in some
of the first pioneering homicide studies in the 1960s and 1970s,
but relatively little has been done in recent years. I am hoping
to change that.”
As a CMAS Visiting Scholar, Martinez will research Houston Latinos
involvement in homicides and other violent crimes. Most recently,
he co-edited the book, “Immigration and Crime: Race, Ethnicity
and Violence” (NYU Press, 2006). He hopes to collaborate with
area law enforcement personnel for research purposes or to provide
insight, if called upon.
“It’s possible that levels of Latino homicide might
be lower than expected in heavily immigrant areas. In other words,
levels of crime might be higher in places with fewer, not more immigrants,
which suggests that as foreign-born newcomers move into poor communities
they actually contribute to a decrease in levels of serious crime
such as homicide,” he said.
Martinez plans to study the impact that immigrants are having on
crime levels in Houston’s Latino areas.
“I believe that levels of Latino homicide and violent crime
may be lower than expected in the areas with a large immigrant population,”
he said. “Since we know that these foreign-born newcomers
don’t have the same level of violent crime and homicide in
their homelands, it’s possible that their moving into Houston’s
poor communities may actually produce a decrease in levels of serious
crime. I’ll be researching this to see if that’s the
Martinez also will teach an undergraduate sociology course on Crime
and Deviance in the Latino Community. A firm grasp of the information
will be an important tool in combating popular media stereotypes
that Latinos are high-crime prone or super-predator killers, he
“I want to answer some important questions, such as what
gives rise to violence in some Houston Latino communities, but not
in others? And also, how does the violence vary by race, ethnicity,
age and gender, immigrant and non-immigrant status?” Martinez
said. “Using homicide and census data from 1985 to now, I
hope to find predictors that are mostly likely to influence violence
and homicide. This would allow me to compare and contrast the factors
shaping Latino homicides to killings of other racial and ethnic
His year-long position as a Visiting Scholar with CMAS is part
of the program’s effort to generate research about the Latino
“Professor Martinez is one of the nation’s leading
Mexican American criminologists and it is our privilege to have
him as a Visiting Scholar,” Tatcho Mindiola, professor and
CMAS director, said. “Dr. Martinez undoubtedly will bring
distinction not only to CMAS, but to the University of Houston as
The CMAS Visiting Scholars program solicits applications each academic
year from junior and senior scholars in the social sciences, humanities,
fine arts, communications and education. The program is also designed
to attract scholars who may be interested in assuming a tenured
or tenure track position at the UH.
Martinez is a native of San Antonio, Texas and most recently comes
from Florida International University in Miami where he is an associate
professor of criminal justice and public health. He is currently
on sabbatical. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal
justice and master’s in sociology from Southwest Texas State
University, and his doctorate from The Ohio State University. His
research interests include criminology, lethal and non-lethal violence,
Latino studies and immigration. He has taught classes on race, class
and crime, minorities in the criminal justice system, public health
of violence and the nature and causes of crime.
For more information on the UH Center for Mexican American Studies,
please visit http://www.class.uh.edu/CMAS/.
About the University of Houston
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