Denying Bail To Illegal Immigrants Could Strain Jails

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In November, 78 percent of Arizona voters approved Proposition 100 to deny bail to illegal aliens who commit serious felonies.

Months later, the Gila County courts and jail system are bracing themselves for the burden the new proposition will place on facilities already operating at maximum capacity.

County Attorney Daisy Flores said Proposition 100 pertains to illegal immigrants who commit Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 felonies or aggravated DUI while living here. They will not be released on bail.

There are about 180 beds in the Globe jail and around 20 in the Payson facility.

The county attorney said everyone will feel the consequences of Proposition 100, including judges, the courts, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement.

"It's a burden that will be felt across the state," she said.

Flores added that illegal immigrants are entitled to a bail bond hearing within 24 hours of their initial arraignment, which is an extremely quick turnaround.

Gila County Sheriff John Armer said Proposition 100 will definitely have an impact on the jails as it increases their population.

Armer said the Payson jail is already running at full capacity, so the burden will be on the jail in Globe.

"It would put (Globe) at near capacity," he said.

All the costs associated with having a suspect in custody without bail impact everyone, he said. "It does increase your cost."

Payson Magistrate Dorothy Little said the impacts probably would not be that great in housing inmates.

"We would not have a great number of those cases," she said. "We would (probably) only have a few a month," adding, the courts and jails will have a better idea of the impacts in the next 30 days.

In a letter to Gila County judges, attorneys and law enforcement, Gila County Presiding Judge Peter Cahill wrote that changes will need to be made to comply with the law as quickly as possible, and no later than May 7.

"I ask Judge Robert Duber, our associate presiding judge, to coordinate prompt implementation of, and full compliance with this order in Gila County. I look forward to working with you on this important issue, and thank you for your cooperation," he wrote.

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