Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Justifying Monkey

Everyone in the country is watching closely to see if a stimulus bill, any kind of stimulus bill, is going to pass quickly. Among those anxiously waiting are the state and local governments which are either tapped out, or about to be tapped out. It's not like the crisis those entities face came on only in December. Many of them were facing shortfalls for the past several years because of the cut back in federal funding for state and local programs by the last administration.

Some local governments, however, found a way to keep the federal dollars rolling into the coffers, using the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy. What they did was figure out a way to balance things out on the back of the vulnerable, just the way the Bush administration and their cronies did.

Among the most vulnerable are illegal workers. While the Bush administration was busy rounding them up, some counties and states figured out that somebody was going to have to house them, at a cost to the feds, of course. Voila! Instant detention centers.

Bristol and other cash-strapped county jails are increasingly embracing the immigration business, capitalizing on the soaring number of foreign-born detainees and the millions of federal dollars a year paid to incarcerate them. Bristol County alone has raked in $33 million since 2001, and has used the money to transform itself into a sprawling campus with a commissary, an ambulance communications center, and a "management accountability building" for regular meetings on jail operations.

"That money is a tremendous boost for us," said Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr., whose jail houses 324 immigrants, up from 44 a decade ago, bringing in $15.6 million last year. "We aggressively try to market ourselves to get as many of those inmates into our doors as we can."

this year, the federal government budgeted $1.7 billion nationwide and $42.8 million in New England for detainees

The federal government is willing to pay $90 per day per detainee for the service, so once the ICE raids started rolling, the cash started rolling in. And it made a big difference to budgets.

In the Suffolk County jail, 269 immigrants now fill Building 8, which was empty before 2003 because its open floor plan made it a security risk for the general prison population. Instead of having to remodel the new $20 million building, Sheriff Andrea Cabral began housing immigrants there, bringing in $10 million a year. ...

"The revenue that is generated from this has been a lifesaver for my budget," Cabral said. "Otherwise the building would be empty, and I'd be struggling a lot more with some of the issues that we've had." ...

The extra funding, meanwhile, injects cash into communities that are struggling during the economic downturn. By expanding the number of immigrants, Bristol jail managed to build five buildings on the campus and expand services that help the entire county, such as a communications unit that patches ambulance drivers through to hospitals, the sheriff said.

Hey! Everybody's a winner! Well, almost everyone.

This is what unrestrained capitalism does to us.



Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

It is the height of folly--fatal, probably--to encourage the justice system to be subject to the profit motive...there in Cal, innit, the prison guards' union preevented the lege from abolishing the 3-strikes condition>?

3:30 PM  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Here's the Red State Cabal's contact info. Plus links to background info on their States: high Infant Mortality, low life expectancy, last in education, poorest, but #1 in getting back more dollars in Federal spending than they pay in taxes. Let's just stop Federal spending in Red States, beyond their tax contributions. Damned Southern SOCIALISTS!

2:30 AM  

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