I couldn't help but chuckle when I read Our View, "Immigration light v. heat" in the Palladium-Item on July 25th. Even more amusing was the analysis you sited was undertaken by Kristin Butcher, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Rutgers University criminologist Anne Morrison Peale.
Now let's take a look at the figures provided by the National Institute of Corrections, Federal Bureau of Prisons, the New York State Senate, Florida's Office of Governor, and California's Office of Governor:
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.
Incarceration of criminal aliens cost an estimated $624 million to state prisons (1999) and $891 million to federal prisons (2002), according to the most recent available figure from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Our Teeming Shore,” New York State Senate Committee on Cities, Sen. Frank Padavan, Chr., “The Unfair Burden: Immigration’s Impact on Florida,” Executive Office of the Governor, and “California’s Illegal Immigration Costs: A Call for Federal Leadership,” Office of the Governor:
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.
Too often, criminal aliens are not identified in local and state jails, the INS is not informed of their presence, detention facilities are not available when they are released, they fail to report for deportation, or they return to the United States after deportation. In March 2000, Congress made public Department of Justice statistics showing that, over the previous five years, the INS had released over 35,000 criminal aliens instead of deporting them. Over 11,000 of those released went on to commit serious crimes, over 1,800 of which were violent ones (including 98 homicides, 142 sexual assaults, and 44 kidnappings). In 2001, thanks to a decision by the Supreme Court, the INS was forced to release into our society over 3,000 criminal aliens (who collectively had been convicted of 125 homicides, 387 sex offenses, and 772 assault charges).6
But why confuse Liberal arguments with the facts?
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Other aliens not included in this total include immigrants who have become U.S. citizens (not included in the federal prison data), aliens being held for trial and some awaiting deportation but not convicted in the United States, e.g., the Cuban Marielitos.
National Institute of Corrections, Federal Bureau of Prisons, June 2003.
“Our Teeming Shore,” New York State Senate Committee on Cities, Sen. Frank Padavan, Chr.; Jan. 1994.
“The Unfair Burden: Immigration’s Impact on Florida,” Executive Office of the Governor; March 1994.
“California’s Illegal Immigration Costs: A Call for Federal Leadership,” Office of the Governor; 1994.
Zadvydas v. Davis (U.S. 2001).