SACRAMENTO - California prison officials announced Monday they would no longer lock up undocumented aliens who violate their state paroles by returning to the United States.
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that in an effort to cut its own costs, it would allow federal authorities to prosecute undocumented immigrants who had illegally re-entered California while on parole.
"We hope that the federal government will partner with us in the implementation of our new policy by prosecuting those criminal aliens who continue to illegally re-enter our country to commit crimes," the department said in a written statement. "Federal law provides penalties up to 10 years in prison for such criminals."
The new policy, which takes effect immediately, replaces the previous procedure in which illegal immigrants who were on parole and had been deported, were returned to state prison if caught violating their parole by illegally re-entering the United States.
The department said that in 2007, it had turned about 12,000 parolees over to federal authorities for deportation. Of those, nearly 1,600 re-entered California and were tossed back in state prison for violating their parole.
The new policy is expected to reduce California's average daily prison population by about 1,000 inmates and save the cash-strapped state about $10 million per year.
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