Is incarceration the answer to immigration?
Monday, March 23, 2015
I did some follow up research on the immigrant kid issue I discussed in a previous blog. The Office of Refugee Resettlement recently reported that for fiscal year 2014 68, 541 kids unlawfully entered the US. It is expected that for fiscal year 2015 74,000 kids will enter. Kids from Mexico are taken right back across the border. The highest percentages of kids come from Honduras followed by Guatemala. Most kids ride a train through Mexico called La Bestia. Neither the Mexican government nor the railroads do anything about it. When the kids are caught at the border, the average time in a shelter is 45 days. All kids are scheduled for a deportation hearing; there were no statistics on the average time for a hearing or the percentage of kids that are allowed to stay. There is neither legislation nor administrative action to address this situation.
The pattern of the US Justice Department in collecting fines without admissions of guilt continues. There are currently several pending settlements over foreclosure and interest rate collusion pending, involving billions in fines. The DOJ practice on collecting fines without admissions of wrong doing is not a deterrent. I did some research on the problem and the following statistics come from the Pew Center. In 1980 the prison population in the US was approximately 500,000. Currently, the population is 2,300,000. We currently have more inmates than the combined 35 European nations. The average cost per inmate in $40,000/year. We now have over 70,000,000 people with criminal records. There are now 3 pieces of legislation in Congress that looks at this problem, more importantly questions are being addressed that look at the relationship between higher incarceration rates and crime reduction and the relationship between wrongdoing and overregulation.
So getting back to the question about jail time for breaches of regulatory matters: I would lean against incarceration except for the most aggravated of economic crimes and in favor of individual civil and criminal liability and corporate and individual loss of license.
On a more personal level, and in the vein of making a difference, I am currently serving on the Greenwood Village Parks and Trails Commission. I had thought it would not be very contentious and I might contribute something that made a difference. Oh how wrong I was. Quickly into my term I ran smack into the dilemma of growth versus open space preservation: regulation versus free market. Stay tuned for results in the next newsletter. Sign up for the latest updates by email if desired.