Saturday, August 12, 2017
Immigration Article of the Day: Crimmigration: The Missing Piece of Criminal Justice Reform by Yolanda Vázquez
University of Cincinnati - College of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies
Over the last decade, a new push for criminal justice reform has taken hold. While the moral and fiscal costs have been exorbitant over the last forty years, failing state budgets and bipartisan recognition of the “broken” system have finally caused legislatures, politicians, and advocates to reassess the costs and benefits of the criminal justice system. Breaking the “tough on crime/soft on crime” binary, the “smart on crime” motto has become a helpful tool in reform efforts aimed at reducing the number of individuals incarcerated and ensuring its fairness, regardless of race and socioeconomic status. Little attention, however, has been given to the criminal justice system’s shifting focus to noncitizens, targeted as “criminal aliens.” Notwithstanding that the interrelationship between the immigration and criminal justice system raises similar concerns about race, racial profiling, severity in sentencing, hyper-incarceration and cost, it has been largely overlooked as a significant component of the criminal justice system and its reform efforts.
This Article discusses this failure. By recognizing the role that the criminal-immigration relationship, also known as crimmigration, plays within the criminal justice system, advocates, politicians, and scholars can enter into a dialogue on criminal justice reform that recognizes its true impact and establish better mechanisms for criminal justice reform that will attack the changing structure of the criminal justice system in the 21st century. Without taking into account its expanding focus, successful reform will not only fail but also exacerbate the issues it alleges to combat.