This year, more than 60,000 individuals will be incarcerated in federal prison for coming into the country illegally. These are mostly non-violent offenders who can face between six months and 10 years in prison if convicted.
Not only does this prison time shave off months or years of a person's life, it also costs the federal government big bucks. But not everyone sees prosecuting offenders as a losing deal. Private prisons are making a huge profit on housing immigrant detainees.
In fact, over the last ten years, the two biggest companies in the private prison industry have seen their revenue more than triple. That's because as the government continues to crack down on immigrants caught illegally crossing the border, there has been a higher demand for detention centers to place them in.
Recently, the U.S. attorney general announced that the government was scaling back the "war on drugs" with reductions in the sentencing guidelines for non-violent drug offenders. But at the same time the government seems to be pursuing the war on undocumented immigrants in full force.
However, the same advocates who fought to reduce incarceration rates and sentences for non-violent drug offenders are now focusing on non-violent undocumented immigrant offenders.
While a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project said it is "great" that the government is addressing the over-incarceration problem in the country, the actions so far are "not tackling the full scope of the problem."
Hopefully, the federal government comes to its senses on this issue as well and decides to quit throwing money down the drain by incarcerating non-violent individuals for lengthy periods of time.
Source: The Huffington Post, "War On Undocumented Immigrants Threatens To Swell U.S. Prison Population," Chris Kirkham, Aug. 23, 2013