Arizona

Image result for arizona capitol

Why FAMM is Working in Arizona:

Arizona has the 4th largest prison population in the country. The state incarcerates more than 41,000 people, 26 percent of which are nonviolent, and 21 percent of which are drug offenders. In Arizona, judges are required to give many people mandatory prison sentences and have very limited discretion to use alternatives like specialty courts or probation, or to fit the punishment to the crime and the individual. Arizona also has exceptionally broad repeat offender laws, which increase sentences dramatically even when people have minor criminal records. FAMM plans to work in Arizona for the next several years. Read the stories below to understand why Arizona needs sentencing reform.

Amber Carlson
Stephanie Troy
Lisa Andrews

2018 Bills FAMM Supports:

In 2018, FAMM was encouraged by the creation of a new bipartisan criminal justice reform task force led by Reps. David Stringer (R-1) and Kirsten Engel (D-10). On January 18, 2018, Reps. Stringer and Engel and 7 other representatives introduced HB 2303, a comprehensive drug sentencing reform bill. Adopting the bill would save money and reform Arizona’s drug sentencing laws by, among other things:

  • Giving Arizona courts the option of using probation for most drug offenses
  • Giving Arizona courts flexibility to give less prison time to drug offenders whose involvement in the offense was minor, or driven by addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, or trauma from military combat
  • Lowering the felony classifications of drug offenses
  • Excluding prior drug possession convictions from being used to trigger much lengthier prison terms for repeat offenders
  • Increasing the amounts of drugs that trigger the lengthiest prison sentences
  • Reducing the scope of drug-free school zones, which currently require long prison sentences for drug offenses, even if the crime occurred after school hours, in a private home, or without children present.

Who HB 2303 Impacts: People sentenced in Arizona state courts (not federal offenders).

Bill Status: HB 2303 died in the Arizona House of Representatives. The bill did not receive a vote before the Arizona Legislature adjourned for the remainder of 2018. The Arizona Legislature will not meet again for official legislative business until 2019. 

HB 2303 (Reps. David Stringer (R-1) and Kirsten Engel (D-10)) 

Bills FAMM Opposes: 

HB 2241 — creates mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl crimes

Who HB 2241 Impacts: People sentenced in Arizona state courts (not federal offenders).

Bill Status: HB 2241 orginally failed to pass the Arizona House on February 14 by a vote of 32-27. The bill was put up for a re-vote on February 20 and passed by a vote of 31-27. Fortunately, the bill will not get a vote from the Arizona Senate, which means that it will not become law in 2018. 

Resources: 

FAMM Press Release: FAMM Praises New Approach to Arizona Drug Sentencing (1/19/18)

Two Arizona Lawmakers Take on the Politically Impossible: Prison Sentence Reform (Tucson.com, 12/21/17)

Report: Drug Sentencing in Arizona: A Prescription for Failure (AFSC-Arizona, 2017) 

Report: A New Public Safety Framework for Arizona (AFSC-Arizona, Dec. 2016)

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:


March 6, 2018

Lisa Andrews: Addiction, Abuse, and Now Prison

A very troubled life of addiction and abuse landed Lisa Andrews in prison for 12 years. It’s clear that she needed intervention and help—but is more than a decade in prison the answer? For years before the police came to Lisa Andrews’ home one day in 2011, she had been wrestling drug addiction—and losing. That… Read more »


March 5, 2018

Stephanie Troy: Making the Most of a Bad Sentence

Stephanie’s story is a messy one, reflecting the chaotic life of a drug addict. It also shows how drug-weight threshold laws can have a devastating “cliff effect” on low-level offenders. Arizona lawmakers thought that their one-size-fits-all prison sentences for drug offenses would only apply to major dealers. Meet Stephanie Troy, who received more than five… Read more »


February 27, 2018

National Groups to Tackle Drug Sentencing Reform in Arizona

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 National Groups to Tackle Drug Sentencing Reform in Arizona PHOENIX – As Arizona lawmakers seek solutions to the state’s growing prison costs, a panel of national sentencing experts will examine how drug sentencing reform could save taxpayer dollars and keep residents safe. How Drug Sentencing Reform Can Make Arizona Safer Thursday, March… Read more »


February 20, 2018

FAMM Urges Arizona House of Representatives to Hold Strong Against Fentanyl Bill

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM Urges Arizona House of Representatives to Hold Strong Against Fentanyl Bill PHOENIX – Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives voted down HB 2241, a bill that would create lengthy, ineffective mandatory minimums for fentanyl trafficking in Arizona. Shortly after the vote, Rep. Vince Leach changed his no vote and… Read more »