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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Involvement in the criminal justice system is an illuminating vantage point from which to analyze the incorporation (or lack thereof) of immigrants into a host country. There are huge disparities across countries in the proportion of a state’s incarcerated population who are foreign. That proportion ranges from over 60 percent in Switzerland and Greece to one percent in Mexico and China. A number of plausible hypotheses can be developed about associations between particular factors and differences in proportions of immigrant imprisonment.Some expected connectionsdo not appear, including overall incarceration levels and stocks or flows of migrants. Other plausible relationships receive some support, such as the prominence of a market-based economic system, the proportion of Europeans among newcomers to a European country, and jus soli laws of citizenship. Finally, some plausible relationships yield surprises: policies to incorporate immigrants or promote social justice are often associated with high levels of foreign incarceration. Patterns of foreigner incarceration can discomfit both liberals and conservatives. Much more investigation needs to be done into relationships found and relationships expected but not visible.

Keywords: immigration policy, imprisonment, criminal justice system, immigrant incorporation, citizenship, OECD

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