Weekly Update

2020 Weekly Update: February 21st

Second Chances Act Is Filed! Needs Signatures!

In last week’s update, we promised you BIG NEWS… and we delivered!

The SECOND CHANCES, REHABILITATION & PUBLIC SAFETY ACT was filed with the Arizona Secretary of State on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The initiative would allow those doing time for nondangerous offenses to be released after serving 50% of their sentences!

The initiative would also authorize the use of state revenue from medical marijuana sales to hire more substance use disorder counselors inside state prisons.

And it would prohibit prosecutors from using “Hanna” priors to enhance the sentences of people convicted of first-time offenses by falsely labeling them “repetitive offenders.”

Nearly 237,000 signatures must be collected by July to get the initiative on the ballot in November. To learn more about the SECOND CHANCES ACT, go to betterwayaz.com.


HB 2808 Makes It to House Floor for Vote!

Despite a few bad pieces of legislation still lingering in committee hearings at the state Capitol, this week was a good one overall for sentencing reform in Arizona!

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 (with one member absent) to move HB 2808 to the House floor for a full vote of all state representatives!

If passed by both chambers of the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey, HB 2808 will increase earned release credits by an additional day and a half for every six days served (resulting in the convicted person serving 70% of their sentence in prison), ONLY IF that person was convicted of a “nonviolent” offense as defined by current law AND they complete a “major self-improvement” program.

Before voting on the bill, House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Allen insisted on an amendment that excludes literacy and General Educational Development (GED, the high school equivalency test) as major self-improvement programs for the purposes of gaining additional earned release credits. While AFSC-AZ opposes this amendment, we endorse the passage of HB 2808 because we know it’s a step in the right direction.

Read the HB 2808 fact sheet for more details on this legislation put together by our coalition.


Thank You for Trying, Rep. Toma!

This was the last week for chairpersons to hear bills that were assigned to their committees by the House Speaker and Senate President.

Unfortunately, that means Rep. Ben Toma’s HB 2893, commonly referred to as “Clean Slate” legislation, is likely dead for the 2020 session, unless it’s somehow revived and reintroduced as a “striker”. 

Rep. Toma has been a vocal proponent for significant #cjreform, and we encourage you to reach out to him and express your support and gratitude for continuing to fight for a fresh start for all people directly-impacted by the punishment system.

Please thank Rep. Toma:
Email: btoma@azleg.gov
Phone: 602-926-3298

Warning: HB 2036 May Rise Again!

We told you last week that HB 2036, the bill that increases mandatory minimum sentencing for fentanyl and heroin offenses which was introduced by Rep. Steve Pierce (that even he doesn’t like), is probably dead for this session.

However, there have been rumblings that an amended version of the bill will be presented to the full House.

Speak Up Now, Just in Case!

We prepare to advocate against passage of this terrible legislation!

If any of you have an experience you’d like to share with lawmakers or media in order to publicly oppose this legislation, please contact us at afscaz@afsc.org.  

In The News…

Arizona House approves bill to allow non-violent offenders time off for classes
February 19th, 2020 via KVOA News 4 Tucson

Local Prisoner Advocacy Organization Launches Statewide Ballot Initiative
February 19th, 2020 via Kathleen Kunz, Tucson Weekly

House panel OKs bill that would change state’s early release sentencing laws
February 20th, 2020 via Howard Fisher, Capitol Media Services

Second Chance Act Aims To Make Arizona Prison Sentences More Fair
February 20th, 2020 via Steve Goldstein, KJZZ


 Know Your Bills! 

Let your representatives know that you support Sentencing Reform in Arizona!

HB2808: prisoners; release credits.

Increases earned release credits fro for people not convicted of a violent or aggravated felony per ARS 13-706 and who complete specific work or major programming in ADC.

**An amendment was added that prevents Functional Literacy and GED classes from counting as programming for earning time. AFSC-AZ does not support this amendment.**


Assigned to Senate Judiciary – awaiting committee hearing date.
HB2893sealing arrest; conviction; sentencing records.

Allows the sealing of conviction histories after a certain period of time, and based on the following tiers:
1.  TEN YEARS FOR A CLASS 2 OR 3 FELONY.
2.  FIVE YEARS FOR A CLASS 4, 5 OR 6 FELONY.
3.  THREE YEARS FOR A CLASS 1 MISDEMEANOR.
4.  TWO YEARS FOR A CLASS 2 OR 3 MISDEMEANOR.
AND 
1.  IF THE PERSON HAS ONE HISTORICAL PRIOR FELONY CONVICTION, AN ADDITIONAL FIVE YEARS.
2.  IF THE PERSON HAS TWO HISTORICAL PRIOR FELONY CONVICTIONS, AN ADDITIONAL SEVEN YEARS.
3.  IF THE PERSON HAS THREE OR MORE HISTORICAL PRIOR FELONY CONVICTIONS, AN ADDITIONAL TEN YEARS.
A person whose record is sealed means their arrest, conviction, and incarceration information is not public record, but remains available to law enforcement and courts.

Was not heard in committee, will not move forward in bill process.
HB2236deferred prosecution program; definition.

Removes restrictions from deferred prosecution programs. Law currently allows prosecutors to prevent people who have previous or specific convictions from being able to avoid prison.

Assigned to Senate Judiciary – awaiting committee hearing date.
SB1171: criminal justice case information; reporting.

Provides a detailed structure of criminal justice data that must be collected and made public by the Attorney General and County Prosecutors offices.  Includes basic demographics and variables of prosecutors practices to understand where there may be biases in the system. This will help create better criminal justice policies. 
HB2250grants; behavioral health treatment services.

Establishes a community treatment and safety fund that will appropriate money for treatment to prevent incarceration, as well as after incarceration to help reduce recidivism. These funds are specifically allocated to the Department of Health Services, not the Department of Corrections. 

Awaiting committee hearing.
HB2608: overdose and disease prevention programs; requirements; standards.

Establishes harm reduction program for cities, towns, counties and NGOs that would provide needle exchanges, overdose prevention and peer support services, while reducing the risk of needle stick injuries to law enforcement. 

Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services committee – awaiting committee hearing date.
HB2045: correctional health services; prohibited contracts.

Prohibits the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) from contracting with private vendors to administer medical, mental health and dental care to incarcerated people beginning in June 2021 and transfers that responsibility back to ADC. 
HB2087 probation; technical violations; reinstatement

Allows for a reinstatement of probation when a technical violation occurs (not a new crime) instead of revocation to prison.

Assigned to House Judiciary on February 19th at 8:30am.
HB2234: sentencing; aggravating circumstances

Makes technical fixes to clarify the intent of the statute, but does not make a substantial change toward sentencing reform.
 
Passed in House Judiciary on February 5th. Awaiting House Floor vote.
HB2383: sentencing ranges; minimum; maximum; repeal

Makes technical fixes to “clean up” sentencing ranges prescribed by statute, while maintaining existing minimum, presumptive, and maximum sentencing levels. Removes some language that prosecutors can use to more easily elevate a charge to aggravating.
 
Assigned to House Judiciary on February 19th at 8:30am.
HB2755: schools; drug violations; reporting options

Allows school authorities to bypass law enforcement and instead move a student to a treatment program if they are caught with drugs in a drug free school zone.
 
Assigned to House Judiciary on February 19th at 8:30am.
SB1556 civil asset forfeiture; conviction; procedures

Requires a person to be convicted, with exceptions, before property that is seized and subject to forfeiture may be forfeited and makes corresponding changes to judicial proceedings. Modifies permissible use of Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund monies.
 
Passed in House Judiciary on February 13th. Awaiting House Floor vote. 
HB2069: corrections oversight committee; ombudsman; duties.

Good: Establishes a much-needed oversight committee to hold ADC accountable.

Bad: Includes ADC director and excludes directly impacted people. 

Was not heard in committee, will not move forward in bill process.
HB2036: fentanyl; heroin; carfentanil; mandatory sentencing.

Establishes 10- and 15-year mandatory minimum sentences for people who sell heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids. It removes options for probation and community treatment, and does not allow judicial discretion. 

This bill is currently held, but may reappear in the Senate.
HB2140: prisoner injuries; monetary judgments; reimbursement.

Would require people who have been incarcerated to pay back medical care costs from their time in prison, even when the expense comes from negligence by the prison or their contracted labor company. If a person does not pay the fees they are at risk of being ineligible for rights restoration. 

Assigned to Senate Transportation and Public Service Committee- awaiting committee hearing date.
SB1172: sex offender registration; requirements; vehicles.

Increases surveillance forms for people who are convicted of sex offenses and reduces time period for people who are homeless to re-register from every 90 days to every 30 days.

Will be heard on Wednesday, March 18th, in the House Judiciary Committee. Call your Representative and tell them to VOTE NO on the floor!
HB2299: unlawful food or drink contamination
Makes it a Class 6 felony if someone does a stupid internet stunt.
 
Passed in House Judiciary on February 5th. Awaiting House Floor vote.
HB2538: health care workers; assault; prevention
Increases punishment for assault charges when the incident occurs specifically with health care workers. Creates increased criminalization of vulnerable populations. 

Will be heard on Wednesday, March 18th, in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Call the committee and tell them to VOTE NO.d committee assignment. 

In the meantime, you can start to build momentum for commonsense ERC reform by uploading AFSC-AZ’s #ERCReformAZ Facebook photo frame and telling your families, friends and followers that the 85% rule is failing our communities. Click here to upload yours now!


If your reform efforts are focused on achieving real accountability from ADC, you can upload AFSC-AZ’s #CitizensOversightAZ Facebook photo frame. Click here!

Categories: Weekly Update

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