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Is 'Send Them to Mexico' An Answer to California's Overcrowding Prison Problem?

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  • Is 'Send Them to Mexico' An Answer to California's Overcrowding Prison Problem?

    The Law Blog’s native state, California, is in a world of hurt. The prisons are overflowing, the U.C. system is strapped, and relief is nowhere in sight — the state faces a nearly $20 billion budget shortfall through June of next year. In situations like this that prove the old saw about necessity being the mother of invention.

    Enter Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. On Monday, he floated an out-of-the-box potential solution to California’s prison overcrowding problem. Nope, it didn’t have anything to do with changing the sentencing laws or designing the latest, greatest panopticon. Schwarzenegger’s solution is different: pay Mexico to build new prisons and ship off the Golden State’s incarcerated illegal immigrants south of the border. Click here for the LAT story. (Click here, also, for an LAT piece on the start of the state’s plan to reduce the prison population.)

    During a q-and-a session at the Sacramento Press Club, Schwarzenegger reportedly said: “We can do so much better in the prison system alone if we can go and take inmates, for instance the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here, and get them to Mexico. Think about it.”

    It’s cheaper to build and run prisons, the theory goes. “We pay them to build the prison down in Mexico,” the governor said. “…Half the costs to build the prisons and half the costs to run the prisons. That is money — $1 billion right there — that could go into higher education.”

    For now, the plan is but a glint in the governor’s eye. “There’s no proposal,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. “He was mentioning a creative solution we should talk about.”

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