Mass Incarceration of Immigrants

Nascent empirical research suggests that there may be a “citizenship bias” in sentencing and that immigrants receive more punitive sentences than their similarly situated citizen counterparts. There are numerous possible explanations for this discrepancy, but one trend may help to account for at least some of it: immigrants in state prisons and jails may be deemed ineligible for certain rehabilitative programs and other sentencing alternatives on the basis of their citizenship status. The purpose of this policy lab is to determine whether and to what extent immigrants in California prisons and jails are excluded from access to rehabilitative programs that function as alternatives to incarceration on the basis of citizenship status. Students will do research to document the existence of such exclusions as a matter of policy and/or practice, and work with Professors Jayashri Srikantiah and Jennifer Chacón and the ACLU of Southern California to draft legislation to prevent noncitizens from being unnecessarily excluded from such programs.

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