Sheriff Paul Penzone changes jail rule for immigrants

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The new Maricopa County sheriff is ending a policy that keeps immigrants locked up in his jails past their release date to give federal authorities extra time to launch deportation proceedings.

Sheriff Paul Penzone announced the new rules at a Friday evening news conference, ending a policy by his controversial predecessor, Joe Arpaio. Penzone said legal issues surrounding the policy left him no choice but to change the rules.

Arpaio became a lightning rod for criticism over his harsh immigration tactics that included his well-publicized sweeps and raids but also his jail policies. Penzone toppled Arpaio in the November election after voters became frustrated over huge legal bills surrounding the longtime lawman.

Penzone says Immigration, Customs and Enforcement officers will remain in his jail, but he will no longer detain inmates past their release dates to accommodate the agency.

You can watch the entire news conference HERE.

Later in the evening, advocates from the group Puente responded with this statement:

"Puente Human Rights Movement and Mijente commend Sheriff Paul Penzone's decision to end "courtesy holds" for Immigrant Customs Enforcement. 

Last year Jacinta Gonzalez, Field Director for Mijente, was held unconstitutionally in the 4th Ave jail on detainer request based on racial profiling.  On December 15, 2016, she filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa Sheriffs Office addressing this practice.

"Penzone's announcement cleans up just one of the many messes Arpaio left behind and is a step in the right direction He must go further however to ensure that all law enforcement agencies are obtaining judicial warrants before entering his jail.” said Jacinta Gonzalez.

"It is crucial that ICE be completely removed from the 4th Ave Jail immediately. Other elected officials should follow in his foot steps. Mayor Stanton and Chief Williams should get rid of 4.48 and legally challenge SB1070 in court to protect the civil and human rights of all of Phoenix’s residents", said Carlos Garcia, Executive Director of Puente. 

ICE detainers lack evidence, violating the constitution and wasting city money. Now Sherif Penzone must ensure that all law enforcement agencies are required to obtain judicial warrants before entering his jail. This is the minimum standard we should expect from the police in respecting everyone’s civil and constitutional rights."

On Saturday, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office released the following statement about Penzone's announcement:

"As previously announced, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will no longer detain County jail inmates facing a civil immigration detainer beyond the period of time for detention authorized under Arizona State law. This conclusion and the resulting change in policy came after consultation with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO), which serves Maricopa County officials as their legal advisor.

MCAO surveyed recent cases around the country concerning similar circumstances.  The legal issues involved may be best illustrated by the case of Mercado v. Dallas County, Texas. The Mercado case concluded that county officials without federal 287(g) authority may not rely on a civil immigration detainer to maintain custody of an individual beyond the time reasonably necessary for county officials to administrate and execute a state release order under state law.

This does not prevent any communications between County detention officials and ICE officials to notify ICE of a pending release and transfer custody at or within the timeframe of releasing an individual from state-based detention."

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