Arizona to Increase Prosecution of Undocumented at Enormous Cost
Despite a severe budget shortage, Arizona is set to begin prosecuting 40 to 60 "apprehended migrants" a day.
This is a very expensive program that is unlikely to be a deterrent.
Even with only 40 prosecutions a day, expenses will likely add up to millions of dollars a year for housing, transporting, prosecuting and defending those who are charged.
While a higher number of arrests clearly occur daily in the Tucson sector, trying to prosecute many more on a daily basis clearly would overwhelm the system, various federal officials say.
On the impact: [More....]
The impact will range from requiring magistrate judges to be available and finding enough qualified private lawyers to help represent the bulk of defendants to sufficient interpreters, added court staff and bringing in more prosecutors.
In addition, the added daily prisoners will clog or possibly overflow the Tucson courthouse's holding facilities, which accommodate only 80 prisoners now. They will require additional marshals for courtroom and cellblock operations and will rapidly fill vacant beds in federal detention centers in Arizona and other states, fueling added prisoner transportation and housing costs.
Then there's the cost of defense counsel.
Heather Williams, first assistant federal public defender in Tucson, said her office will provide two trial lawyers daily, each to represent six illegal immigrant defendants. Attorneys for the other 28 defendants will be appointed from a court-approved private attorney list at a congressionally approved cost of $100 an hour.
The program will cost about $2,600 a day from her office's budget. Court costs for the other defense attorneys will total another $7,200 to $8,000 daily, she said. If cases are heard 50 weeks a year, defense costs will approach $2.5 million a year.
And of the increased prison space:
Most federal prisoners processed through the federal court in Tucson are held at a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Florence, which receives about $10 million a month now, Gonzales said. Were there to be an additional hundred prisoners a day, the cost for bed space alone could double, he said. He said handling 100 new prisoners now would be beyond reach.
Williams says the program won't have a long-term deterrent effect:
In addition, she said, "From the start, the federal public defender has thought that this was ill-advised, that it may be depriving the defendants of effective assistance of counsel, including our finding people who may be citizens and who should not be in the room at all."
|< Britain Considers Under-Skin Microchips for Prisoners | What's the Best Immigration Policy? >|