Sunday, October 22, 2006

The High Prison Costs Of Criminal Aliens

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Criminal aliens—non-citizens who commit crimes—are a growing threat to public safety and national security, as well as a drain on our scarce criminal justice resources. In 1980, our federal and state prisons housed fewer than 9,000 criminal aliens. By the end of 1999, these same prisons housed over 68,000 criminal aliens.1 Today, criminal aliens account for over 29 percent of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities and a higher share of all federal prison inmates.2 These prisoners represent the fastest growing segment of the federal prison population. Over the past five years, an average of more than 72,000 aliens have been arrested annually on drug charges alone. New issue paper.

The New York State Senate Committee on Cities estimates that the annual criminal justice costs for criminal aliens in New York is $270 million. The Committee has called for a national moratorium on immigration to help alleviate this problem.3 According to the Illinois Governor’s Office, Illinois spends over $40 million just on the incarceration of criminal aliens. The cost to Florida’s judicial and correction system for criminal aliens was $73 million in 1993. 4 In 1988, there were 5,500 illegal immigrants in California’s prisons. By fiscal year 1994- 1995, that is estimated to have increased to more than 18,000 illegal immigrants in state prisons—a three-fold increase. California taxpayers have spent over a billion dollars in the last five years to keep these convicted felons in prison, and the FY 9495 cost of incarcerating these offenders exceeded $375 million.5 The federal government has begun to reimburse heavily alien-impacted states for some of the costs of illegal alien prisoners in their state prisons. For 1996, Congress appropriated $300 million for this program.

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