Contact: Rabiah Burks
FAMM Calls for Sentencing Reform After New Report Documents Arizona’s Prison Growth
WASHINGTON — Today, a new report was released that details how Arizona has come to have the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the country. The group FWD.us published the report, “Arizona’s Imprisonment Problem: The High Price of Prison Growth.” Using data collected from across the state, the report shows significant increases in the number of people going to prison, how long they stay, and the cost to taxpayers.
FAMM Vice President of Policy Molly Gill said, “This important report shows that Arizona’s sprawling and expensive prison system is no accident. The legislature needs to reconsider putting so many nonviolent offenders in prison and keeping them there longer than other states do. That isn’t good for public safety, taxpayers, families, or the community. Arizona can do better, and this report gives some good suggestions for places to start.”
The report found that:
- There are nearly as many people in Arizona prisons today — about 42,000 — as there are at the University of Arizona;
- Arizona’s prison population has grown 60 percent since 2000, and this growth is not due to an increase in crime;
- This prison population growth has led to corrections costs of more than one billion dollars annually for Arizona taxpayers, far more than taxpayers in neighboring states pay for their smaller prison populations;
- Seven in 10 people entering prison in Arizona do so for nonviolent crimes, an 80 percent increase since 2000;
- The number of people going to prison for drug offenses has doubled in Arizona since 2000;
- People stay in prison longer in Arizona on average than they do in other states – 13 months longer for property offenses, 34 to 45 months longer for drug distribution offenses, and seven months longer for violent offenses; and
- Arizona is only one of three states that require all prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their total sentences, regardless of the prisoner’s rehabilitation while incarcerated.
FAMM is working with FWD.us and other advocates across the political spectrum in Arizona to reform the state’s sentencing laws so that people like drug offenders Amber Carlson, Stephanie Troy, and Lisa Andrews get more reasonable punishments, rather than excessive sentences that are not cost-effective.
FAMM is a nonpartisan, national advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice reforms to make our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM promotes change by raising the voices of families and individuals who are directly affected by counterproductive sentencing and prison policies.
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