Experienced judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and law enforcement all tell me the same thing: There is one system of justice for the rich, and another for the rest of us. Here in Arizona, we’ve lost our way. Our state has the fourth highest incarceration rate in the nation. We’ve abandoned our foundational principle of ‘justice for all’. The crisis of mass incarceration destroys families, disproportionately discriminates against people of color. It discriminates against our poor. It is biased against our LGBTQ community. It damages our economy. It tears at the moral fabric of our courts and our communities.
Reducing Arizona’s staggering prison population will require a multifaceted, bold, and creative approach. We have an immediate need for sentencing reform. Arizona’s strict laws require most inmates to serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for release. In a system over-crowded with non-violent offenders, this needlessly feeds a never ending demand for prison expansion. As your Representative, I will push for meaningful sentence reduction legislation. Additionally, we need to downgrade several types of drug offenses to misdemeanors. Arizona is the only state in the country where first-time marijuana possession can be classified as a felony.
photo credit: Patrick Breen AP
I answer your questions:
We must release them immediately and expunge their records. That is what is just and fair.