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- 05-24-2012, 01:46 PM #1
The cost of non-citizens in Florida prisons
FORT MYERS - Taxpayers have spent more than a $100 million to incarcerate non-citizens in Florida.
Manual Rosales is among them. He allegedly cut the throat of his three-month-old grandson in Lehigh Acres in 2010.
The Honduran national, in the United States illegally, has been in the Lee County Jail for two years waiting for his trial.
"This one inmate has cost us nearly $60,000 in a relatively short period of time, and his disposition of his case is frankly nowhere in sight," said Sheriff Mike Scott.
Scott says Rosales, and 146 other non-citizen inmates, cost Lee County taxpayers $82 each, every day.
That doesn't include the cost for health care when one of them gets sick.
"[Rosales] is just a behemoth. He's an accident waiting to happen, in terms of medical condition. We're going to pay for that," Scott said.
The NBC2 Investigators uncovered the jail's cost is a drop in the bucket compared to prisons.
There are about 5,651 non-citizen inmates in Florida.
James Evans, from Greece, is one of them. He's serving a 15 year sentence for manslaughter at Charlotte County's Correctional Institute.
So is Rene Gonzalez, who is from Cuba. He's in prison for selling drugs. Cubans are the largest group of non-citizens in Florida prisons.
Natives of Haiti, the Bahamas, Great Britain, Canada and numerous South American countries are also incarcerated.
The total cost to taxpayers: $110 million a year.
"Take them down, put them on a plane and dump them off by a one-way ticket," argues Senator Mike Bennett, a Republican out of Sarasota.
Bennett proposed legislation in 2010 that would have deported many non-violent offenders to their home countries.
The legislation could have saved taxpayers $59 million in future prison bed costs.
"If they have served say, 50-percent of their time, instead of spending $20,000 a year to keep them in there, why don't we spent $700 for an airplane ticket, put them on a plane and send them back to whereever they came from?" Bennett told NBC2.
Bennett's legislation failed. He's not running again, but hopes another lawmaker will continue his fight.
Sheriff Scott agrees.
"It kind of frosts me as someone running the jail and it frosts the taxpayer," he said.
While it wouldn't impact Rosales if convicted, Scott says it would reduce stress on the system.
The American Civil Liberties Union is split on this issue.
The legislation would not deport Cubans, because the U.S. doesn't have a diplomatic relationship with the country. They don't think that's fair.
But, they also don't think simply deporting inmates will solve the problem either.
Those we spoke to agree the problem is the result of failed immigration reform, which federal lawmakers have yet to act on.
The cost of non-citizens in Florida prisons - NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida
Last edited by Jean; 05-24-2012 at 05:37 PM. Reason: corrected source link