Note for reporters and editors: Supporters of HB 2270 are at the Arizona Capitol today (1/22/2019) to meet with lawmakers. To schedule a time to meet with HB 2270 supporters, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow along on social media using #ReframingJustice and #JustSentencingAZ.
PHOENIX—The ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice today announced its support of HB 2270, the Just Sentencing Bill of 2019.
The Just Sentencing Bill proposes long overdue reforms to Arizona’s sentencing laws. This proposal would reduce the stress incarceration places on families and communities, bring Arizona in line with reforms being made nationwide, and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
“Passing the Just Sentencing Bill of 2019 will be a major step toward making our justice system more equitable, more rehabilitative, and more cost effective,” said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler. “Arizona has the fourth highest incarceration rate in the nation. The three states that are worse off than Arizona have all made significant reforms to their justice systems recently. If Arizona doesn’t act now, our incarceration crisis will worsen, and our families and communities will continue to suffer irreparable harm.”
The Just Sentencing Bill of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake), will allow people in prison to earn release credits if they’ve demonstrated good behavior and participated in educational and rehabilitative programs while incarcerated.
Currently, all incarcerated people are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, regardless of the severity of the crime or the progress a person has made in prison. Arizona is one of only a few states with this strict requirement.
“The current system puts people in prison longer but does nothing to solve underlying issues like the need for mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and resources for those disenfranchised economically,” said ACLU of Arizona Community Partnerships Coordinator Khalil Rushdan. “This common-sense reform is needed because it will reunite families sooner and restore hope to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by decades of harsh sentencing laws in Arizona.”
The ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice is currently working to reduce the state prison population by 50 percent and to eliminate racial disparities within the justice system.
For more information about the ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice, visit https://www.smartjusticeaz.org.