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October 7, 2012

"Immigrant Criminals in Overcrowded Prisons: Rethinking an Anachronistic Policy"

The title of this post is the title of this lengthy paper by Professor Peter Schuck, which is available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Under an Immigration and Nationality Act provision dating to 1917, deportable immigrant criminals must serve their entire sentences in the U.S. before being removed from the country. (Exceptions, enacted in 1996, are seldom used).  At the same time, federal and state prisons are dangerously overcrowded, with the Supreme Court soon to rule on the constitutionality of overcrowded conditions in the California system.  The paper shows that the most common proposals for reducing overcrowding are either politically difficult (e.g., shorter sentences) or numerically insignificant (e.g., decriminalizing drug possession for use).  The paper proposes instead, or in addition, to facilitate the earlier removal of deportable criminals and analyzes the legal, policy, and diplomatic changes that would be necessary to implement this approach.

October 7, 2012 at 09:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"The paper shows that the most common proposals for reducing overcrowding are either politically difficult (e.g., shorter sentences) or numerically insignificant (e.g., decriminalizing drug possession for use)."

Ooooooooops. The truth slips out! Only a "numerically insignificant" component of the prison population is in there for "drug possession or use."

And all these years we've been told that the prisons are so overcrowded because of the huge number of inmates incarcerated for drug possession or use. Now it turns out, and not from the lips of the DEA, that those incarcerated are "numerically insignificant."

My goodness.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 8, 2012 9:09:15 AM

Well, if the DEA said it, it must be true. In Texas state prisons, however, a little more than 17% of those presently incarcerated are there for drug crimes. Of those, according to the most recent TDCJ statistical report (pdf, p. 19) 15,724 were incarcerated for "possession" and 10,670 for "delivery." So not everyone imprisoned for drug crimes are there for "possession or use," but in Texas, at least, neither is it a "numerically insignificant" total.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Oct 8, 2012 11:54:12 AM

Grits, would love to know how many got pled down to possession. Also, how many of these are habitual criminals with serious felonies on their record. As I am sure you know, there's a problem with drug addict criminals--namely, that many commit crimes to support their habits.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 8, 2012 12:58:14 PM

Grits --

"Well, if the DEA said it, it must be true."

1. Read more carefully. What I said was the DEA not NOT say it; instead it's in the abstract written by Prof. Schuck.

2. Texas is not the United States and, as its application of the DP shows, is atypiclal of the US in some of its applications of criminal law.

3. If you are in a better postion than Prof. Schuck to know what the nationwide situation for drug incarceration is, please explain how.

4. In any event, I would submit that you might not be in an optimal position to upbraid the DEA on grounds of deceit, even if this report were from the DEA, http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/police-video-contradicts-bloggers-account-of-taser/nRkZg/

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 8, 2012 3:06:33 PM

In Texas you can get convicted of "Possession" of marijuana for amounts of between 50 and 2000 pounds ( a second degree felony) or even over 2000 pounds (a first degree felony). While the convicion would be for possession it is hardly in the same class as "possession for use".

Posted by: Michael Morris | Oct 9, 2012 11:19:55 AM

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