PHOENIX, AZ (December 16, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is asking the U.S. Department of Justice for additional information from its Civil Rights Division regarding any alleged civil rights violations by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that may have occurred from November 2010 to the present. Speaking at a press conference today, Montgomery noted that the information on alleged civil rights abuses summarized in a 22-page letter he received from the DOJ yesterday relates solely to incidents that occurred prior to Montgomery’s administration.
County Attorney’s letter to DOJ.pdf
“I take very seriously my duty to ensure that all constitutional standards are being met in the course of prosecutions. In the time that I have been in office, I have not seen any cases that involve the types of civil rights issues raised by the Department of Justice investigation,” Montgomery said. “If DOJ has any information to the contrary, I want to know about it and, if accurate, I will take appropriate action,” he added.
County Attorney Montgomery also expressed deep concern about the decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to terminate MCSO’s 287(g) program, restrict the agency’s access to Secure Communities technology and withdraw immigration detainees from facilities operated by MCSO. In a letter sent today to ICE Director John Morton, Montgomery called on the agency to rescind these restrictions, warning they would severely undermine the ability of law enforcement in Maricopa County to hold undocumented criminal suspects without bond as required by Arizona’s Constitution and statutes.
County Attorney’s letter to ICE.pdf
“These actions are likely to endanger the public, violate international treaty obligations, and may result in constitutional violations,” Montgomery wrote. “As a direct consequence, serious criminals who should not be admitted to bail under Arizona’s constitution may return to the communities where they committed crimes, flee the jurisdiction, and/or leave the country to avoid prosecution thereby frustrating the due administration of justice and violating a crime victim’s right to justice and due process,” he added
Article 2, Section 22 of the Arizona Constitution provides that persons accused of serious felony offenses who are in the United States illegally are not eligible for bond. This provision was added after Arizona voters approved Proposition 100 in 2006. Montgomery also pointed out that the restriction imposed by ICE will complicate efforts to uphold the treaty rights of non-U.S. arrestees to have their country of citizenship notified of their arrest. Under A.R.S. § 13-3906 local authorities must notify all detained foreigners “without delay” of their right to have their consulate informed of their detention, pursuant to Article 36 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.