The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 24, 2013

Deportations neither sensible nor wise


The Daily Item

— Your editorial (Nov. 19) titled “State prison deportations are sensible” missed a critical element in assessing this new state policy. That is the element of deterrence, which is one of the main reasons for a prison sentence. Depriving criminals of their liberty serves to deter those criminal offenders, and other potential criminal offenders from the commission of crimes.

If the state releases illegal immigrants who commit crimes here, to be deported, before they even complete their minimum sentences, the deterrent value of the prison sentence is nullified. To do this without empirical knowledge that those criminals will not commit further crimes, here or elsewhere, during the time their sentences are running, is not sensible or wise. It may save money but it also may increase the likelihood of further criminal activity. It seems to me that this early release policy for illegal immigrant criminals is putting out the welcome mat for the wrong immigrants. It is all well and good to insure that government saves money, but not at the risk of creating an environment where illegal immigrant criminals believe that they can commit crimes in Pennsylvania and risk only deportation as a consequence. The old adage “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind.

Dennis Ziegenfuss, Retired Northumberland County Chief Probation and Parole officer, retired State Parole Board Hearing Examiner