Thursday, April 17, 2014



Pinal Co. ends its jail deal with ICE
Board of Supervisors says organization hasn't been covering operational costs
Casa Grande Dispatch
Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 7:51 am
By Brian Wright, Maricopa Monitor

FLORENCE — At a Pinal County Board of Supervisors meeting last week, the board voted to give the federal government one week to come to an agreement on a contract; the feds did not respond.
On Wednesday morning, County Manager Greg Stanley sent a notice of termination letter to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It gives a 100-day notice for the cancellation of the contract by Pinal County; however, it does not preclude the two sides from continuing to negotiate the matter during that time period.

A contract was signed initially between the county and ICE in August 2006. It allowed ICE to house immigrant detainees at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center. In addition to paying the county a per diem rate for each detainee, the contract was supposed to cover the cost of a massive jail expansion.
In reality, the per diem rate of $59.64 is so low, it has cost the county millions of dollars in the years since. Also, the contract hasn't paid for one cent of the jail's expansion.

That cost — at approximately $3.5 million per year — has come out of the pockets of Pinal taxpayers.
If ICE comes to the table at any point before the 100 days is over and accepts the county's proposal for per diem rates or puts forth what the county deems an acceptable counteroffer, a deal could still be made.
But the lack of cooperation from ICE to this point makes that seem far from certain.

At last week's board meeting, Chairman Anthony Smith of Maricopa and Vice Chairman Todd House of Apache Junction expressed frustration with receiving little to no communication from ICE during the past 11 months. Smith said every week that goes by without an agreement costs the county another $55,000.
"To continue to run this clock costing the taxpayers is something that I find unacceptable," Smith said.
On Wednesday, Joe Pyritz, public information officer for the county, told the Maricopa Monitor that although the Board of Supervisors is upset with how things have gone, it isn't pulling the plug on negotiations entirely.
"They don't want to lose the contract because it (is supposed to help) pay the debt service on the jail expansion."

However, Pyritz said the board wants to show it's no pushover when it comes to negotiating the deal.
"We're not weak-kneed on this," he said. Pyritz said the county put together its own proposal on per diem rates Feb. 21 but it never heard back from the feds.

In the letter Stanley sent to ICE, he explained why the county can no longer sit around and wait for a response. "Pinal is still interested in continuing its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement but cannot continue at the existing per diem rate of $59.64," he wrote. "At the current rate, Pinal County taxpayers are subsidizing federal costs for detention."

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, hired Saddlebrooke resident Nancy Discher last year to assist in contract negotiations with ICE, even though the county manager was listed as the main point of contact. In 2012, Discher ran for the District 4 Pinal County supervisor seat, but she was defeated in the Republican primary by Smith, of Maricopa.

Tim Gaffney, director of administration for the Sheriff's Office, said in an email to the Maricopa Monitor that Discher is leaving PCSO.

"Ms. Discher let our office know on April 4 she will be resigning effective April 18 for another job opportunity," he said.


Human trafficking bill gets nod in Arizona Senate
Associated Press
Apr 15, 2014
PHOENIX - The Arizona Senate has unanimously approved a bill targeting pimps who traffic minors for sex.

House Bill 2454 was championed by the wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain and by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. The House passed it on Feb. 27.

The bill toughens penalties for trafficking adults and targets businesses such as massage parlors and escort services that advertise online. It requires advertisers to post their license number and have written permission of any women they depict and evidence they're not minors.

Cindy McCain says the bill would put Arizona at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking by imposing harsh penalties for pimps.

The Senate approved the bill on Tuesday. It will now go to Brewer's desk.


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