Why is ending mass incarceration a labor issue? Mass incarceration is not only a civil rights issue, it’s an economics issue. The mass criminalization of millions of men and women, mostly people of color who are imprisoned for small infractions, creates a group of second-class citizens who are unable to rebuild a life for themselves even after serving their time. We believe that the formerly incarcerated deserve a fair chance to reintegrate into our communities; support training and education programs and the restoration of full citizenship rights; and back policies that disrupt the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline.
Does mass incarceration affect AAPIs? Absolutely. From 2000 to 2010, the AAPI prison population quadrupled. Since AAPIs are often officially characterized as “others” throughout the US prison system, AAPI inmate data gets lost and effectively shows that AAPIs do not exist in the prison system. What we do know is that Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders are incarcerated at a much higher rate than average, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated experience unique challenges, such as cultural stigma, a lack of linguistically- and culturally-competent resources or services, disownment from families, and even deportation when getting out of prison.
What can we do to end the mass incarceration of AAPIs? We need to disrupt the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline, which is a national trend wherein children are funneled through public schools, the criminal justice system, and then ultimately deported. APALA calls for more investments in solutions that promote restorative justice and healing, rather than dehumanization.