It is estimated that 62,000 Arizona residents are incarcerated in various facilities such as state prisons, local jails, and federal prisons. The rate of incarceration in Arizona has steadily and significantly grown over the last 40 years. People of color are overrepresented in Arizona prisons and jails. The number of people incarcerated that have not been convicted of a crime have has also grown in the last 40 years. In fact, the rate of incarceration in Arizona greatly outnumbers that of other countries. In addition, it is estimated that 76,000 people are currently on probation in Arizona.
Although the need for criminal justice reform in Arizona has been recognized, recent efforts to address these issues have failed in the Arizona legislature. One proposed Arizona bill would have enabled incarcerated people to be released early if they participated in a work or education program. Another bill would have given Arizona judges some discretion to avoid harsh mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses.
More than 30 states in the United States have reformed their mandatory minimum sentences. Arizona’s next legislative session does not begin until January, 2020. Although the need for criminal justice reform in Arizona has been recognized, more work is needed to achieve meaningful criminal justice reform.