An overcrowded prison system continues to be strained by added offenders, some of which are not in the country legally. Prosecutors say while tax payer dollars go in to keeping illegal immigrants in prison in our country, its one way to ensure convicted felons actually serve their sentence. Ricky Martinez was recently sentenced to eight to ten years in prison for second-degree rape in Brunswick County. Martinez is in the country illegally. Once his sentence is up, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will deport him to Mexico. Meredith Everhart, Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney said, "If we had just deported them immediately then we have no way of assuring that they serve time. Then they serve no time and there's no consequences for the crimes that they have committed." According to INS and FBI statistics from 2006, 29 percent of all the inmates in all state and federal prisons are illegal aliens. Imprisoning those inmates costs the state and federal governments 1.6 billion dollars every year. Meredith Everhart said illegal immigrants accused of crimes are difficult to track down. They often use fake social security cards or names. If convicted and serve prison time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have them in a database of previously deported felons, which makes them easier to find if they try to get back in to the United States.
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