by Joe Watson
Last week, the Arizona Legislature failed to advance common-sense sentencing reform proposals that would have moved our state away from the outdated policies that continue to proliferate mass incarceration and waste hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars every year.
Both HB 2270, sponsored by state Rep. Walt Blackman (R-LD6), and HB 2245, sponsored by state Rep. Tony Rivero (R-LD21), were denied hearings in the House Judiciary Committee by the Feb. 22 deadline, in spite of the overwhelming bipartisan support for both measures.
HB 2270 would have given thousands of people incarcerated in state prisons the chance to return to their families and communities sooner by increasing earned release credits for those who work and participate in programming. HB 2245 would have given judges greater discretion and allowed them to reject unjust mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines on a case-by-case basis.
“The majority of voters want real sentencing reform,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director for Tucson-based American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-AZ). “Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents pleaded with the chair of the House Judiciary Committee via phone calls, emails and handwritten letters to hear these bills. And yet, ultimately, one committee chair chose to stand in the way of progress.”
AFSC-AZ will proudly continue to fight for comprehensive justice reform alongside thousands of Arizona families and our partners, including Americans for Prosperity, the ACLU of Arizona, the American Conservative Union, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, FAMM, FWD.us, Libre Initiative, and LUCHA.
American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-AZ) works to reduce the size and scope of the criminal punishment system in Arizona using research and documentation, advocacy, and policy reform to advance sentencing reform, halt prison expansion, and improve conditions of confinement.