Weekly Update

2020 Weekly Update: March 20th

With so many people hoping for news on the status of criminal justice reform-related legislation, especially state Rep. Walt Blackman’s HB 2808, it’s important to lead with what’s happening at the Capitol in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Skinny Budget

First, the state Senate completed work on its so called “skinny budget” late Thursday, which included a $50-million coronavirus emergency package for dealing with the effects of the pandemic. 

The House, however, could not yet muster enough support for the package, and after a short while both chambers shut down for the weekend. They plan to return on Monday morning and try again.

HB 2808

Because of the ongoing crisis, it is unclear what’s going to happen to HB 2808, HB 2608 (needle exchange), HB 2236 (deferred prosecution), or any number of bills that AFSC-AZ supports (or opposes). 

State Legislature During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Legislators are in the process of deciding what the rest of this legislative session is going to look like and when it will end. What we are hearing from our lobbyist and coalition partners is that the Legislature is leaning toward quick passage of their “skinny budget” and a handful of “critical” bills, followed by a temporary recess, and then a final return so lawmakers can pass some form of economic relief to address the coronavirus pandemic.

At this point, it is very unlikely that there will be hearings for or passage of any criminal justice reform-related legislation, which is hugely disappointing to us all. We assure you, however, that we are advocating for lawmakers to vote on HB 2808 and all the bills we support. But, at this time, it does not appear that doing so is a priority at the Capitol.

Continue Your Communication & Community Support

Even in uncertain times, there are strong community support systems throughout Arizona and across the country to help move us through.

The 2020 Legislative session is different than any other. While we don’t yet know exactly what will happen, it is important that we remain involved. We have the technologies available to continue to make our voices heard and hold our elected leaders accountable. 

You can send your experiences on how COVID-19 has impacted you and your family to state lawmakers, and tell them what you need from the state. Tell them about your loved ones inside, share if you have been impacted by restaurants and school closings, or any other item that has changed over the last week. They need to know what is happening so they can make decisions that are effective.

We recommend that, if you don’t already have social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, create those accounts today! Twitter is an especially helpful platform for political news in Arizona. Once you’ve created your own account, you can find handles for many state Senators and Representatives here.

To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting all areas of our lives and what can be done, AFSC-AZ encourages you to attend a livestream from our friends at LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona) at 8 p.m PT. Find out more information and RSVP by clicking here.

Connecting to Loved Ones Should be FREE

You can also help advocate for free phone calls and video visits with your incarcerated loved ones.

The Prison Policy Initiative has prepared a template letter for local advocates fighting to preserve family contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more. 

Tips for Staying Connected!

AFSC-AZ will continue to focus on how to best help those impacted in our state prisons. We will share updates and actions as we know more. In the meantime, you can find our updated COVID-19 resource page on AFSCArizona.org

Today, we uploaded tips for staying connected with your incarcerated loved ones. Plus, the results from our COVID-19 survey, in which we asked all of you to share what information you need from the Department of Corrections.

Please share these resources with your friends on social media.

In The News…

Coconino County jail releases nonviolent inmates in light of coronavirus concerns
March 20th, 2020 by Scott Buffon, via AZ Daily Sun

Arizona Department Of Corrections Sells Prison Toilet Paper To Employees At Cost During Pandemic
March 20th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ

Union leaders, advocates criticize DOC plan for preventing coronavirus in prisons
March 19th, 2020 by Dave Biscobing, via ABC15-Phoenix

Maricopa County Attorney Changes Charging Policies To Reduce COVID-19 Exposure
March 18th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ

Arizona’s Understaffed, Filthy Prisons Have No Plan to Deal With COVID-19
March 17th, 2020 by Elizabeth Whitman, via Phoenix New Times

 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:
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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