Florida officials want to deport immigrants who are not U.S. citizens and are doing prison time for nonviolent crimes, reports the Miami Herald. The Florida Department of Corrections and state Sen. Mike Bennett are discussing the proposal with federal officials as a way to relieve the pressures of immigration and to help curb the explosive growth of Florida’s prison population, which could hit 100,000 by year’s end. The go-home offer would extend only to the estimated 2,500 immigrants — whether here legally or illegally — who are not violent, are not U.S. citizens. and who agree to return to and remain in their country of origin.
The governor would likely have to commute the sentences of those who want to leave. A similar ”rapid deportation” program is in the works in Arizona and New York. Nonviolent inmates in those states have to serve a certain portion of their sentence. Arizona, which has a slightly higher population of noncitizen immigrant inmates than Florida, has deported 1,128 since early 2006 for a savings of $13.7 million. Florida prison officials thought they’d have to spend $220 million to build 5,761 new prison beds next budget year. Now, they say they’ll likely have to spend $649 million for 10,003 beds.