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Arizona

Total Correctional Population: 137,500 

Number on Parole or Probation: 84,800

Number in Local Jail or Prison: 55,000

Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 790 

Incarceration Rate Rank: 7th 

Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 10.9%

Sources: 

“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers 

recently enacted reforms

2019

House Bill 2602: Allows the court to impose a concurrent or consecutive sentence for multiple convictions.Currently, the presumption is that judges impose consecutive sentences

House Bill 2660:  Limits agencies’ use of a criminal record during preclearance considerations for a license to when a conviction has occurred within 7 years for certain offenses or when a conviction has not been expunged or set aside.

2018

House Bill 2169: Allows a judge to mitigate a civil penalty for a traffic violation if the person demonstrates the penalty to be a hardship on the person or the person's family; provides the court the option to restrict, rather than suspend, a person's driving privileges if a person violated statutory mandatory financial responsibility requirements, among other changes.

House Bill 2311: Limits the liability of employers who hire or contract employees with criminal histories.

House Bill 2312: Modifies procedures for setting aside a conviction for those who have worked hard for a second chance.

House Bill 2313: Makes changes to the court's ability to mitigate fines and fees of a defendant for those who are facing financial hardship.

Senate Bill 1436: Prohibits a state agency or board from denying an otherwise qualified individual an occupational license due to a criminal record.

2017

House Bill 2290: Allows individuals convicted of criminal offenses to be grants a provisional occupational license.

House Bill 2243: Requires the filing of civil asset forfeiture reports electronically.

House Bill 2477: Increases the state’s burden of proof for a seizure and forfeiture, requires reporting of information related to seizures and forfeitures, requires audit reports, allows the court to award attorney fees to individuals who successfully challenge a seizure.

Senate Bill 1071: Requires the Director of the DOC to develop, implement, and maintain a graduated intervention policy for offenders who violate a condition of community supervision, requires reporting.

2016

Senate Bill 1246: Permits the DOC to place offenders in drug treatment prior to release; adds reentry and mental health.

Senate Bill 1247: Permits inmate to participate in community re-entry/work programs within 12 months of release.

 

News

May 31, 2019

“Asking hard questions and demanding evidence-based answers can protect both the public’s pocket book and its safety – on our streets, in our courtrooms, in our jails and prisons and in our communities.”

The Arizona Town Hall Association conducted 16 public meetings around the state and produced a report with recommendations for official action and personal commitments to improve the state’s justice system. Participants in the town halls included elected officials, community and business leaders, reform advocates, law enforcement, students, and people who are incarcerated—two of the town halls took place inside correctional facilities. In addition to detailing the results of the community meetings, the report includes background research from the Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy on elements of Arizona’s criminal justice system.

January 18, 2019

“I want to add to my portfolio of programs that are sustainable…do justice and serve the community. That’s the essence of criminal justice reform.”
 
Pima County’s Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison program was highlighted at this week’s winter meeting of the Major County Prosecutor’s Council. The program, in place since 2011, allows people to opt into an intensive supervision, treatment and support program rather than being sentenced to prison. The University of Arizona estimated that the program had saved $6 million over the course of four years, and that the program cost less than half as much as sending a person to prison. Attendees, including district and county attorneys from Baltimore, New York, Seattle, and Denver, met to discuss strategies to assist in criminal justice reform at the local level.  

November 16, 2018

“This imprisonment crisis is not felt equally across the state—some communities bear the burden far more than others.”
 
A new report from FWD.us examines the impact of the criminal justice system to communities in Arizona. Researchers analyzed individual-level data on admissions to the state’s prisons, and found significant geographic disparity in admissions, sentence lengths and the use of diversion programs. They also compared Maricopa County to Florida’s Miami-Dade County, which has similar demographics and crime rates, and found that Maricopa County sent six times as many people to prison. Since 2000, both counties have seen reduced crime rates, but Maricopa County has increased its prison admissions by 33%, while Miami-Dade decreased theirs by 46%.       

November 2, 2018

“Wealthy people can pay these fees and vote immediately, while poor people could spend the rest of their lives in a cycle of debt that denies them the ability to cast a ballot."

In seven states—Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida—people with unpaid court fines and fees are prohibited from voting. Other states require that all conditions of probation and parole, including the payment of debt, are completed prior to the restoration of voting rights. Individuals can be charged the for the use of a public defender, room and board while incarcerated, and conditions of probation and parole supervision, and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service found that nearly 10 million people owed more than $50 billion from contact with the criminal justice system.

October 26, 2018

“There are 42,090 men and women in Arizona state prisons. Nearly all of them will be released. We’re working from the state perspective to make sure they’re prepared.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwell, and players Antoine Bethea and Corey Peters met with participants in the Second Chance initiative, an eight-week reentry program created last year. Nearly 60% of participants in the Second Chance program leave prison with a job, and the recidivism rate among graduates has dropped by 30%. The group visited participants in an addiction treatment program, a computer lab, a job fair, and a skills-training area, which simulates work schedules and teaches masonry and drywall installation. After the tour, Bidwell promised the team would help publicize the program, provide grass for the complex’s football team, and donate tickets for program graduates.

September 21, 2018

“The average person would think, well we have a lot of people in prison, that must mean there’s a lot of crime in Arizona. That’s absolutely not true.”

A report from FWD.us, the first in a series examining Arizona’s imprisonment crisis, blamed poor policy choices, not rising crime, for the state’s growing prison population. The growth in prison population has outpaced residential growth, and the imprisonment rate has grown during a period of declining crime. Arizona has the 4th highest rate of imprisonment in the country, which costs taxpayers more than $1 billion each year. The authors note that the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually if its imprisonment rate was similar to neighboring states.

June 29, 2018

“We believe that shedding light on state compassionate release programs is the first step to improving them.”
 
Families Against Mandatory Minimums released a report this week on the state of compassionate release programs across the country. They found a patchwork of policies, with incomplete, inconsistent and incoherent guidelines and rules. 25 states, including ArizonaIowaKentuckyMichiganMinnesotaNew YorkOhioPennsylvaniaRhode Island and Tennessee, have unclear or insufficient guidance surrounding their compassionate release programs for elderly incarcerated people, and Iowa has no formal compassionate release program at all. The report includes 21 policy recommendations to expand, improve, and publicize programs.  

March 23, 2018

“The cycle of crime and punishment doesn’t create better citizens and safer communities. It creates better criminals.”

In The Hill, Young Republican National Federation Chairman Jason Emert and CPS' Jenna Moll argued that corrections systems need to be more focused on reducing recidivism, including the federal government. In recent years, Arizona and Louisiana have taken steps to provide education, mentoring, substance abuse treatment, vocational training to people who are incarcerated, and Tennessee has reduced barriers to employment for those who have been released. These states have undertaken these reforms within a conservative framework: achieving lower crime rates while spending fewer tax dollars on broken approaches to criminal justice.

February 9, 2018

“The humiliation is really something you carry with you forever.”

A legislative committee in Arizona voted to increase funding for feminine hygiene products after hearing testimony from formerly incarcerated women about the “bloodstained pants, begging and bartering” at Perryville State Prison. Under current policy, women are provided with twelve pads per month, and have to pay for any additional pads or tampons. Similar legislation is being considered in Maryland and Virginia, and has already become law in Colorado.

January 12, 2018

“The last thing we want is for them to find themselves back in trouble with the law”

In his State of the State address, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey reinforced his commitment to reducing recidivism and highlighted success stories from the Second Chance Centers job training programs.  Leading up to the address, Ducey also said it was time to reevaluate the way prison beds are used in his state to prevent the need for expensive prison expansions.

November 17, 2017

Coast to coast, new reports are bridging the gap between scholarship on the books and reform on the ground

Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law released a four volume report featuring the work of dozens of researchers on criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration and release. Across the country, the Project on Accountable Justice took a hard look at Florida’s criminal justice system, and the need for reform.