Arizona is fourth in the nation in prison population, only beaten by Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. 2010 research found 1 in 13 Arizonans have a current or prior felony conviction, limiting their ability to find jobs, support family, and become productive, tax-paying citizens.
Spending for the Department of Corrections, which oversees the state’s prison system, has increased by $280 million since 2000. The Department closes out the year 2019 with a budget topping one billion.
“. . . More people are now sent to prison for drug crimes in Arizona than all violent offenses combined . . . in the last five years while Arizona sent 39 percent more people to prison for drug possession, Oklahoma, California, and Utah defelonized simple possession (making people with simple drug possession ineligible for prison) and reinvested savings in community treatment programs. . .
“. . .The best research now shows that alternatives to incarceration are more effective than prison at reducing recidivism for most people and long prison sentences are ineffective as a crime control measure. . .
“. . .There are almost as many people in prison as there are students* at the University of Arizona. . .
“. . . Arizona stands out for its continued reliance on long prison sentences and over-imprisonment.”