HomeAsian AmericansIncarceration of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Increasing at Rapid Rate

Incarceration of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Increasing at Rapid Rate

Prison cell

When it comes to criminal justice reform, you don’t hear a lot about how that might impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

That’s why I was a bit surprised to read these statistics from the National Council on Asian Pacific Americans.

The incarceration rate of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders quadrupled from 2000 – 2010, according to the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

Disaggregated data is limited, but the Council says Samoan and Vietnamese have the highest rate of arrest than any other ethnic group in San Francisco. In Oakland, California in 2006 Samoans had the highest arrest rate of any racial/ethnic group in the city at 140 per 1,000, while Cambodians (63 per 1,000), Laotians (52 per 1,000) and Vietnamese (28 per 1,000) also had high rates of arrest. Not coincidentally, these groups also have high rates of poverty and language barriers.

That’s why the National Council on Asian Pacific Americans is applauding a bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.

“Criminal justice reform is one of the civil rights imperatives of our time,” said Christopher Kang, the group’s national director.

The issue is important to the AAPI community because criminal violations, regardless of how small, can lead to deportations. The Council says Southeast Asian Americans are three to four times more likely to be deported because of an old conviction compared to other immigrant communities.

The Council is urging both the full House and Senate to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act without delay.

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