During his State of the State speech in Phoenix Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey expressed interest in prison sentencing reform, and reducing the state's prison population.
Ducey, who's starting his second year in office, didn't provide much detail, except that he would like to create a panel of substance abuse experts to look into drug abuse treatment—perhaps as an alternative to prison or jail time for people facing nonviolent drug convictions? Pima County has a program that's had much success
in giving people second chances, and keeping jail beds from overflowing.
The Tucson-based prison reform advocacy group American Friends Service Committee
applauded what they called the "governor's openness to discuss these issues."
AFSC Program Director Caroline Isaacs issued this statement:
AFSC has worked tirelessly for the last 15 years to promote evidence-based alternatives to incarceration with the state’s leadership, and is pleased to see progress being made.
The Governor’s leadership on sentencing reform is courageous and timely. Everyone knows that constant prison expansion is not only unsustainable, it is also not producing a proportional increase in public safety.
The group now calls on the Governor and state legislature to nix plans for funding 1,000 more private prison beds through a new contract with Corrections Corporation of America, and to deny the Department of Corrections’ request for permission to bid out an additional 2,500 beds.
The requested beds simply will not be needed. In addition to the Governor’s plan, there are bills ready to be introduced this session that would cut the prison population substantially, eliminating the need to commit the state to another costly 20-year contract with a for-profit prison corporation.
The majority of other states, including those with conservative leadership, have proven that evidence-based sentencing reform can cut prison costs and produce greater gains in crime and recidivism reduction. We hope this is the beginning of a constructive dialogue about safely reducing prison populations and we look forward to sharing ideas with our state leadership.