WASHINGTON (AFP) – Foreigners in federal courts in the United States face harsher penalties and are more likely to be convicted than US citizens, a study released Wednesday found.
According to the study in the American Sociological Review, 96 percent of convicted non-US citizens received a prison sentence in 2008, compared to 85 per cent of US citizens.
“This is a major issue given that the number of non-US citizens sentenced in US federal courts increased nearly five-fold over the past two decades,” said Michael Light, an assistant sociology professor at Purdue University and the study’s lead author.
Researchers analysed US federal district court data from 1992-2008 for the study.
In a statement, Light said a sentencing penalty exists for non-US citizens and found that in 2008, they received between two and four months additional prison time compared to US citizens. Researchers accounted for factors such as criminal history or the seriousness of the offense.
The issue is a growing concern as the number of non-US citizens in America – estimated at more than 22 million – continues to expand, Light said.