Native Hawaiians are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated in the state of Hawai'i, according to statistics from the criminal justice system. Asians are underrepresented and whites are represented slightly above their proportion of the population. Although these statistics have sometimes been used to make arguments about criminal propensities, this article argues that such differences are not inherent but are socially produced. They reflect the kinds of behavior that are defined as criminal and subjected to energetic arrest, prosecution, and conviction while other behaviors are ignored. Using historical data, this article argues that criminalization is a social process that zeroes in on certain populations and their activities and that its targets change with alterations in historical circumstances.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jan 7, 2002