Weekly Update

2020 Weekly Update: March 27th

In a rare act, on Monday lawmakers agreed to take a recess in accordance with health and safety recommendations around COVID-19. The recess came after the House passed the Senate’s $11.8-billion budget and $50-million package to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. At this time, the session is set to resume on April 13, but this is entirely dependent on what happens with the spread of the virus in the next few days.

What’s in the $50 Million package? 

The money is designated for the governor to use, at his discretion, on programs designed to help Arizonans economically affected by COVID-19. That ranges from cash to prevent evictions or foreclosures and services for the homeless, to cash for food bank operations, and economic assistance to health-care providers, nonprofit organizations and businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Gov. Ducey has signed multiple executive orders to address the needs of Arizonans at this time, including stopping evictions, increasing hospital resources, and allowing more telemedicine. You can review all executive orders here: https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders.

How does this affect CJ Reform bills?

Almost all bills not having to do with the pandemic have been set aside and will not be addressed once lawmakers return from recess. That means that HB 2808 (earned release credits), HB 2608 (needle exchange) and HB 2236 (deferred prosecution) are effectively dead and, barring something currently unforeseen, will not be resurrected until the 2021 session.

Of course, all of us here at AFSC-AZ and our coalition partners are extremely disappointed by this. Know that we did all we could to keep these bills alive, and almost every lawmaker had to give up on a piece of legislation they’d fought for passionately.

That said, the pandemic has created a fluid situation at the state Capitol, and if anything changes, we will update you. As #cjreform proponent Rep. Ben Toma recently told The Yellow Sheet Report, “There’s always hope. Things take time to percolate.”

Let’s Start a Wave! (And Take This Survey!)

Gov. Ducey and ADCRR Director Shinn cannot spend another week ignoring how dire the situation is inside Arizona’s state prisons. So, ReFraming Justice leaders Lisa White, Charlene Schwickrath and Deborah North have put together a quick questionnaire to help state officials pull their heads out of the sand.

If you or someone you know is supporting their incarcerated family members during the pandemic, please share this questionnaire with them and ask them to complete it at once. If Director Shinn won’t tell us what’s happening inside, we’ll crowdsource the information from families and their incarcerated loved ones!

Stay Up to Date on COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19 and Prisons: Incubating a PandemicAFSC-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

Recently, 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. And in the coming days, we will also launch a virtual clearinghouse of organizations you can support and actions you can take to help incarcerated people across the country. Please share these resources with your friends on social media. 

In The News…

Incarcerated People Near Death Await Arizona Gov. Ducey’s Signature For Release 
March 26th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ

Coronavirus Tracker: How Justice Systems Are Responding in Each State
March 25th, 2020 via The Marshall Project

Officers raise concern about lack of protective equipment inside Arizona prisons
March 25th, 2020 by Dave Biscobing, via ABC15-Phoenix

Prisons And Jails Change Policies To Address Coronavirus Threat Behind Bars
March 23rd, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via 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:
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

1 reply »

  1. I am deeply concerned about all the inmates that could get this virus. It is only a matter of time before someone can tracks it and it spread through the prisons like wildfire. The incarcerated individuals do not stand a chance and if these individuals pass away. What is the state going to do nothing

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