Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Monday that the state could save $1 billion by building and operating prisons in Mexico to house undocumented felons who are currently imprisoned in California.
The governor floated the idea during an appearance at the Sacramento Press Club in response to a question about controlling state spending. His speech came on the same day that changes in prisoner parole and credits for time served took effect.
"We pay them to build the prisons down in Mexico and then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in a prison. ... And all this, it would be half the cost to build the prisons and half the cost to run the prisons," Schwarzenegger said, predicting it would save the state $1 billion that could be spent on higher education.
About 19,000 of the state's 171,000 prisoners are illegal immigrants, according to the most recent statistics available online. The state spends more than $8 billion a year on the prison system.
Aaron McLear, spokesman for the governor, said later that Schwarzenegger's comments did not represent a concrete proposal, but "a concept somebody mentioned to him" and he could not say where the governor came up with the $1 billion figure.
The governor's statements seemed to catch his prisons chief off guard. Matthew Cate, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said it was not a proposal the department was pursuing and he assumed it was an extension of Schwarzenegger's call to privatize some of the state's prison operations.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Holy crap. Guess how Schwarzenegger wants to do that prison privatization thing: