[JURIST] The air transportation system used by the federal government to deport illegal immigrants and transfer federal prisoners could be more secure and cost-effective, according to an audit report [PDF text] released Tuesday by the Department of Justice Inspector General. Known as the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) [official website], the system leased jets from Boeing to transport 305,000 prisoners in 2005 to various locations, in and out of the country, at a total cost of $87 million. The audit suggested that as only 13 percent of flights could boast of a better than minimum passenger-guard ratio, more security would ensure that the passengers are never able to overcome security and hijack a plane. The audit also noted that poor logistical planning created too many empty seats, and that significant long-term savings would be realized if JAMS purchased the planes outright, rather than leasing them from Boeing.
The US Department of Homeland Security in July resumed use of its own repatriation program [JURIST report], flying illegal immigrants back to Mexico twice daily. In August, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that US Border Patrol [official website] officials are now detaining nearly all non-Mexican illegal immigrants [JURIST report; DHS fact sheet] caught crossing the US-Mexico border for an average of 21 days before releasing them to their home countries. AP has more.