July 2, 2009

Characteristics of Deportees in Jamaica

Having completed my interviews, I continue to strategize about the best use of my time here in Jamaica. Last night, I spent a few hours online, setting things up for my next destination – Guatemala. It looks as though things will go very well there also. I emailed a professor there and asked if he had any leads in terms of housing and an R.A.

I couldn’t believe my luck when he told me about a woman who is currently carrying out a statistical analysis of deportees in Guatemala. For this project, she needed to locate 200 deportees and write up a report. If she agrees to work with me, it should be easy for her to find thirty deportees for me to interview. I am hoping she will agree as her contract for the current project expires just a couple of weeks before I arrive in Guatemala! Perfect timing.

Having begun this project in Jamaica, I have learned a few things that I will implement once I am in Guatemala. First, I will decide on the characteristics of a representative sample beforehand. Secondly, I will have a limit of three interviews a day, and try to do just one on most days. Thirdly, I will ask my R.A. to write up a summary of each interview and give it to me the day after the interview. This should allow things to proceed more smoothly in Guatemala. At any rate, I will keep in contact with the professor in Guatemala to ensure that all is set up and ready to go when I arrive in mid-August.

This morning, I was able to complete a manuscript review for a journal. That was the seventh one I have done this year. I have resolved to decline all future requests for those until I return to the USA. I think I have done my “quota” for the year, and then some.

After spending the morning doing my review, I had a dip in the pool with my daughters. That was fun, and relaxing. Not too long after, Evelyn, my research assistant dropped by. She had good news – she’s been hired to work as staff at a summer camp for inner city children. That starts next week. She asked me if I could help her find information on sexuality to give a class to her students. I said we could look online. She had hoped that I would prepare some documents for her, but I told her I’d be happy to help her do an online search, but that I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to prepare a lecture outline for her. I’m not sure what the motive behind that request was. But, once she realized I don’t have a printer, she switched topics.

In the afternoon, I was able to turn my attention to my deportation project. As I am still waiting for my transcriptions to come back, I decided to begin to write up the methodology section for my interviewee sample in Jamaica. The first step was to figure out the characteristics of Jamaican deportees are, and then to compare my sample to the overall deportee population. This will also allow me to see if I need to do more interviews while I am here. I had two sources of information for deportees. The first is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data. The second is a study done by criminology professor Bernard Headley (2005): Deported. Using these two sources, I was able to come up with an overall description of Jamaican deportees.

In 2007, 1,490 people were deported from the United States to Jamaica. Of these, 1,160 (78%) were deported on criminal grounds, and 330 (22%) were deported for not having the proper documentation to remain in the US. This was down substantially from 2,541 deportees in 2004. The percentage of criminal deportees, however, was higher than in previous years – the average over the previous decade being about 71 percent (DHS data – Table 37d).

Most deportees sent back to Jamaica are men – between 1997 and 2003, 96.5 percent were men. Some of these men came to the US as small children, but the majority did not. Less than three percent of people deported for criminal activity came to the US before the age of five. The average age of first entry was 23 years. Overall, one-fifth came to the US between the ages 16 and 20. The average stay in the US for this group was nearly 12 years. Among the convicted deportees, the average stay in prison was about four years (Headley et al 2005).

For nearly all of these deportees, the conviction which led to their deportation was their first conviction. And, the most common offense was drug-related – 42.9 percent of people deported on criminal grounds between 1997 and 2003 were deported for cocaine or marijuana possession or distribution.

I suppose now I should make a table that shows how well my sample maps onto this sample. Of course, I didn’t take notes on exactly these variables as I was interviewing, so I will have to listen to the recordings. As such, I think it is best to wait to do that until I have my transcriptions back!

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