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Arizona courts hand out highest number of prison sentences in 2017

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Federal courts in Arizona sent more people to prison than those in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles combined last year because of the number of illegal border crossers and drug smugglers.

According to a report from the Arizona Daily Star, the 17,770 people sent to prison by the District of Arizona last year was more than any other district.

In Arizona, 95 percent of prison sentences handed out involved cases of either illegal border crossing or drug smuggling.

Operation Streamline, a 2005 policy that implemented a zero-tolerance approach to border crossing, contributed to the big number of convictions. Of the people sent to prison by federal courts in Arizona, 81 percent were accused of illegally crossing the border.

Those sentences led to an overall average sentence of five months for the state. For those caught crossing the border for the first time, the average sentence was one month.

Despite having the highest number of sentenced prisoners in the nation, the average sentence for Arizona prisoners was the lowest in the country.

The Northern District of Texas had the highest average sentence with 102 months.

President Donald Trump has voiced intentions to implement a border wall to curb the number of illegal border crossings. He planned to meet with congressional leaders later this week at Camp David to outline a legislative agenda — which would likely include the border wall — for the upcoming year.

Although there are no official plans for a border wall, prototypes for the wall have already been built and were undergoing tests.

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