OCA, APALA, and SEARAC Applaud Bipartisan Introduction of the Pretrial and Safety Act (S.2432)


11 August 2017

CONTACT:  Thu Nguyen | Communications Associate

202.223.5500 | tnguyen@ocanational.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a joint statement with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates applauds U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on the introduction of the Bail Reform Bill, the Pretrial and Safety Act.
The bipartisan legislation would address many of the pressing issues with the current money bail system and work to create a more equitable criminal justice system by:

  • Authorizing grant money to encourage states to replace money bail practices and establishing criteria to obtain grants;
  • Approving additional grant funds for the Bureau of Justice Statistics to establish a National Pretrial Reporting Program to collect data on processing defendants; And
  • Requiring an annual report to the Department of Justice to ensure transparency and accountability in the aforementioned grant programs.

The current money bail system disproportionately harms low-income communities and people of color, with 9 of ten defendants being unable to afford to post bail. Even for minor crimes, bail can exceed $20,000. However, nearly half of defendants that are “high risk” are released, due to their ability to afford bail. Therefore, OCA commends Senator Harris and Senator Paul for their efforts in bringing this bill to the Senate.
“Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are typically overlooked in calculating the incarceration rate, but under the “other” category, AAPIs make up 9 to 11% of those held in state and federal prison system,” said Vicki Shu, OCA National Vice President of Public Affairs. “Asian Americans, particularly the Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities, understand the devastating impact of mass incarceration on low-income communities, and OCA will continue to support efforts to create positive reform of the money bail system and criminal justice system as a whole.”
“Our system, which already profits off the incarceration of Black and Brown bodies, perpetuates a cycle of criminalization for AAPI and other communities of color. If we are to truly make strides in reforming the criminal justice system, we must invest in solutions that promote restorative justice based on compassion and commitment for all communities,” said Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of APALA. “This includes investing in a variety of solutions from reforming the bail system to passing banning the box policies to countering the administration's mass deportation agenda that fuels the private prison industry and the mass incarceration of people of color."

“Southeast Asian Americans have among the highest poverty rates and lowest educational attainment rates of any racial/ethnic group in the country, due to their history as refugees. Where data exists, we also know that they are subject to high rates of arrest and criminalization. Outdated and costly money bail systems penalize the most vulnerable of our communities,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC. “It is about time that lawmakers work across the aisles to address the disproportionate impact of criminal justice policies like this on low-income communities, immigrants, and people of color. We applaud this bipartisan effort by Harris and Paul."
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

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