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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    CO: Budget Woes Derail Plea Bargain Ban For Illegal Immigran

    Budget Woes Derail Plea Bargain Ban For Illegal Immigrants
    Bill Sponsor Says Issue Not Dead
    By Lance Hernandez, 7NEWS Reporter

    POSTED: 5:28 pm MST January 29, 2009
    UPDATED: 10:15 pm MST January 29, 2009

    DENVER -- Lawmakers, grappling with the issue of plea bargains for illegal immigrants, ran into a roadblock Thursday when the bill's sponsor learned about the fiscal impact of such a law.

    House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, had intended to close a loophole in the law with his proposal.

    "Basically, it prohibited the plea bargaining to agricultural trespass for the purpose of avoiding deportation," he said.

    But May added that the fiscal note attached to the bill made it cost prohibitive, especially during these lean budget times.

    "It required us to add 17 prison cells a year," May said. "This problem is apparently bigger than I imagined when we started."

    Facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, lawmakers are struggling to cut expenses, not add to them.

    That's good news for defense attorney Kallman Elinoff. He represents an illegal immigrant who police have accused of causing a triple fatal car crash at an Aurora ice cream shop last September.

    Records show that Francis Hernandez had numerous brushes with the law, but was never deported.

    "I don't believe this bill does anything except demonstrate a knee-jerk reaction to the matter," Elinoff told 7NEWS.

    Elinoff said judges and district attorneys need to have flexibility to craft fair sentences for everyone convicted of a crime. He cited federal sentencing guidelines as an example of a one-size solution that doesn't work for every problem.

    "In the federal system we've ended up with people being sentenced to multiple years in prison for marijuana possession," he said.

    "The criminal justice system should not be guided and manipulated by this hot topic of immigration," Elinoff added.

    But May, whose bill was killed in committee, said, "This issue is not over. It is not acceptable to have illegal immigrant felons wandering the streets of Colorado."

    He said he plans to meet with district attorneys and will try to craft another solution to the problem.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member cvangel's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

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