BUDGET UPDATE: Still time to stop new prison beds

Thanks to everyone who responded to our 11th hour action alert yesterday. Unfortunately, House Appropriations passed the bill 8-5 on a party-line vote. However, we are hearing that there are many Republicans who are still unhappy with the budget and are delaying its passage. This buys us a little more time to contact legislators with our message.

Note: Several people were given misinformation when they called in to their legislators. They were told that there’s no money for private prisons in the FY16 budget. While this is technically true, the budget does require ADC to sign a contract this year, which means the new beds are guaranteed.

The budget bill released this week would require the Department of Corrections to award a contract for 1,000 medium security prison beds to open on July 1, 2016, to be expanded to 2,000 beds (total) in subsequent years, with legislative approval.

While the FUNDING for these beds wouldn’t come through until FY17, if a contract is signed this year, WE WILL BE ON THE HOOK FOR FUTURE FUNDING. We must stop a contract from being signed.

There are a number of Republicans who are not in favor of the current budget. WE STILL HAVE TIME TO MAKE THIS BUDGET BETTER!

Take Action!

CONTACT THESE LEGISLATORS

Tell them NOT to approve ANY new prison beds, now or in the future!

House Speaker David Gowan:  (602) 926-3312, dgowan@azleg.gov

Senate President Andy Biggs: (602) 926-4371, abiggs@azleg.gov

House Appropriations Chair:  Rep. Justin Olson, (602) 926-5288, jolson@azleg.gov

Senate Appropriations Chair:  Don Shooter, (602) 926-4139, dshooter@azleg.gov

These are some of the “holdouts” on the budget. Contact IF YOU ARE IN THEIR DISTRICT!

Rep. Noel Campbell, D1. (602) 926-3124, ncampbell@azleg.gov

Rep. Karen Fann D1. (602) 926-3160, dfann@azleg.gov

Rep Chris Ackerley, Sahuarita -D2 – 602-926-3077; jackerley@azleg.gov

Rep. Brenda Barton, D6. (602) 926-4129, bbarton@azleg.gov

Rep. Bob Thorpe, D6. (602) 926-5219, bthorpe@azleg.gov

Rep. Franklin Pratt, D8: 602-926-5761; fpratt@azleg.gov

Rep. Thomas Shope, D8: 602-926-3012; tshope@azleg.gov

Rep. Heather Carter, D15. (602) 926-5503, hcarter@azleg.gov

Rep. Doug Coleman, D16 (602) 926-3160 dcoleman@azleg.gov

Rep. Jill Norgaard, D18 (602) 926-3140, jnorgaard@azleg.gov  

Rep. Bob Robson, D 18 (602) 926-5549 brobson@azleg.gov  

Rep. Paul Boyer, D20 (602) 926-4173, pboyer@azleg.gov

Rep. Rick Gray, D21 (602) 926-5993. rgray@azleg.gov

Rep. Michelle Ugenti, D23 (602) 926-4480, mugenti@azleg.gov 

Rep. Russell “Rusty” Bowers, D25 (602) 926-3128, rbowers@azleg.gov

Rep. Kate Brophy-McGee D28 (602) 926-4486 kbrophymcgee@azleg.gov  

If you don’t know who your representatives are, click here:

http://www.azleg.gov/alisStaticPages/HowToContactMember.asp

Suggested Talking Points:

  1. More prison beds are a long-term fiscal burden:
    1. Although this budget bill delays the funding for the beds until FY2017, signing a contract this year commits future legislatures to funding the beds.
    2. A new prison contract would burden the state with a 20-year commitment, most likely with a guarantee to keep the prison 90% full or more.
  1. There are effective alternatives either currently in place or being proposed that would make the new prison beds unnecessary.
    1. The Transition Program allows all non-violent prisoners to be released 90 days before their 85% release date. In 2013, the program saved taxpayers $1,087,494. There is currently a bill moving through the legislature (SB1390) that would potentially release 3,500 people next year and 5,000 people every year thereafter, making new beds unnecessary.
    2. A modest adjustment of Truth in Sentencing laws would potentially allow for the release of 9,500 people, with a potential cost savings of $207,493,375 per year.
  1. Arizona voters do not want new prisons. They want the state to prioritize education. A statewide poll found that 76% of Arizonans favor releasing nonviolent prisoners into community-based treatment programs.

**If you can blind copy or cc us, we will have a better idea how effective this initiative is.  If you receive responses, even boiler-plate ones, please forward those to us, if possible.

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