News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

County's goal: Get border-crossers out of jail, deported faster

By Kim Smith

Each year Pima County taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to jail illegal entrants accused of misdemeanor crimes.

But the County Attorney's Office is working on a plan that could get them out of jail and back to Mexico and other foreign ports faster.

On any given day, about 10 percent of the prisoners in the county jail are illegal entrants, or believed to be illegal entrants, said India Davis, the jail's support-operations division commander.

Once their local charges have been settled, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement take custody of those here illegally and deport them or begin deportation proceedings.

Right now it takes about 10 days to resolve most misdemeanor cases, either through dismissals or plea agreements.

But Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and Assistant County Administrator Lindy Funkhouser think they may be able to speed that up.

Instead of waiting until a suspect's pretrial hearing 10 days after arrest to settle the case, they are considering offering misdemeanor suspects plea agreements within a day or two of arrest, when they're arraigned.

In most of the cases, it would be the same deal suspects would get anyway, only sooner. They'd be sentenced to time they've already served in jail, or probation, and transferred to an ICE facility in Florence or Eloy.

Since every inmate costs the county $62.79 per day, the savings would be substantial, Funkhouser said.

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