“As a nation, we need to make criminal justice reform a priority especially as young people of color that come from immigrant, poor, and working class families, and communities become further disproportionately impacted by our country's ’tough on crime’ policies and perpetual school to prison to deportation pipeline,” said Minh Nguyen, Executive Director of VAYLA based in New Orleans, LA. "Bringing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act to the senate floor for a vote would mark a step forward for the many communities fighting for comprehensive criminal justice reform policies in this country. We are committed to this fight to dismantle the system of oppression for the long haul and will continue to organize to ensure racial, gender and economic justice for all.
In the last thirty years alone, America's prison population has grown from 500,000 during the 1980s to the 2.2 million incarcerated people today1. As a result, the United States now shares 25% of the world's prison population2. Specifically for AAPI communities, the prison population has increased by 250% from 1990 to 20003.
"We understand that the Southeast Asian and broader AAPI narrative is continuously overlooked in debates surrounding criminal justice reform. From high poverty rates, high school dropout rates, a history of trauma, criminalization, and an increase in deportation rates, the experiences of Southeast Asian communities pose a unique challenge for the many policy makers who have little to no understanding of the nuanced experiences of the larger AAPI population," said Cat Bao Le in Charlotte, NC, Southeast Asian Coalition's Executive Director.
In December 2015, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA), Asian Prisoner Support Committee, National Education Association and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) published “AAPIs Behind Bars”, a first of its kind report on how the school-to-prison-to-deportation impacts AAPI communities. View the report: http://bit.ly/AAPIsBehindBars
"As a community organization that supports formerly incarcerated AAPIs and works to end mass incarceration and the criminalization of people of color, API RISE is proud to stand with others in the AAPI community to call on Senator McConnell to bring up a vote on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123). Given many AAPIs in prison were juveniles sentenced as adults, we hope that this is just the beginning and that future efforts will be able to impact more men and women regardless of their crimes," said Duc Ta of Asian Pacific Islander Re-Entry and Inclusion Through Support and Empowerment (API RISE) based in Los Angeles, CA.
APALA Nevada’s Ray Takeda & member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added, "We will continue to engage our communities in Las Vegas, throughout the state and across the country to pass S. 2123 and move sentencing and broader criminal justice reform. It is especially important for our communities to stand together on this issue if we are to ever create a system of restorative justice for all."
The full letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can be found here:http://bit.ly/1RWP4iq
1 The Sentencing Project, “Trends in U.S. Corrections”:http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_Trends_in_Corrections_Fact_sheet.pdf
2 American Civil Liberties Union, “The Prison Crisis”:https://www.aclu.org/prison-crisis
3 Oh, A., and Umemoto, K. AAPIs: From incarceration to re-entry. Amerasian Journal. 2005;31(3):43-59