Category: Urgent Action Alerts

URGENT ACTION: Tell members of Senate Judiciary to VOTE YES on SB1068

Arizona is long overdue in implementing safe and cost-effective sentencing reform. One bill which has the potential to have huge budget savings as well as positive impacts on public safety is SB1068, which would give people incarcerated for non-violent offenses the opportunity to earn more credits toward early release, and allow them to complete their community supervision more quickly.

The bill:

  • Retains the current earned release credit of one day for every six days served (85%) for people convicted of violent offenses
  • Allows those incarcerated for non-violent crimes to earn release credit of two days for every six served (65%), including time spent in county jails
  • Reduces the required term of community supervision after release from prison for people convicted of non-violent offenses to three days for every seven days.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

This bill will face strong opposition from prosecutors. We need your voice!

Take Action!  Tell the members of Senate Judiciary to VOTE YES ON SB1068!

The bill’s first committee is Senate Judiciary, and the Chair is Sen Judy Burges (R), District 22.  The hearing will be this Thursday, 2/9/17 at 9:00am.

Sen. Burges is also the SPONSOR OF ALL FOUR OF AFSC’s Bills this year—Be sure to THANK HER for her leadership!

Sen. Judy Burges, Chair: jburges@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5861

Please call, email, or fax the members of the Committee and tell them to support SB1068. If you are a constituent of any of the other members be sure to mention that.

Sen. Nancy Barto, Vice-Chair: nbarto@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5766

Sen. Lupe Contreras, Minority Whip: ncontreras@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5284

Sen. Andrea D’Alessandroadalessandro@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5342

Sen. Frank Pratt: fpratt@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5761

Sen. Martin Quezada: mquezada@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5911

Sen. Bob Worsley; bworsley@azleg.gov; (602) 926-5760

Toll-free phone number to reach any state representative or senator:  1-800-352-8404.  Press #3 for the Senate and #4 for the House. Then just ask the operator to connect you to the office of the person you want to talk to.

Tell Them VOTE YES on SB1068 Because:

  • This bill will help reduce our bloated prison population. Arizona has the highest incarceration rate of western states—the 6th highest incarceration rate in the country.
  • This bill will reduce recidivism. Research shows there is no evidence to support the theory that harsher sentences reduce crime. Crime rates have increased and decreased both before and after introduction of Truth-in-Sentencing in Arizona. States that have shorter sentences have seen greater decreases in crime.
  • This bill will save taxpayer dollars. Due to our outdated sentencing practices, Arizona ranks 4th highest among all 50 states in the percentage of general funds spent on prisons.
  • This bill will bring us more in step with accepted national practices. Arizona is one of only three states that still requires people to serve 85% of their sentence.

**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.

BACKGROUND:

Currently, regardless of whether the offense is violent or nonviolent, no one can get released earlier than 85% of their sentence, even if they are a model prisoner. This policy is one of the main drivers of Arizona’s high incarceration rate.

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This bill would offer a highly motivating incentive for inmates convicted of a nonviolent offense to stay out of trouble and participate in rehabilitative programs.

The bill does not apply to prisoners convicted of violent felonies as defined in Sec. 13-706. It would not “throw open the doors” and let everyone out of prison. It will simply allow incarcerated people who pose a low risk to the community to earn their freedom more quickly.

The Arizona Auditor General estimates that such a change could result in significant cost savings for taxpayers.  According to the Arizona Department of Corrections the average cost per prisoner for minimal incarceration is $20,000 a year, while community supervision costs less than $3,000 per year.

A similar effort in 2008 in Mississippi—hardly a liberal, soft-on-crime state—resulted in an estimated $200 million savings in corrections costs (though Mississippi adopted a more aggressive change than is proposed here)

Arizona is way behind the curve on this issue.  Over half of US states have taken action in recent years to reduce their prison populations.  And many of these states saw greater reductions in crime rates than Arizona.

Arizona has some of the harshest sentencing laws in the nation, our incarceration rate is the 6th highest, and we are spending over $1 Billion on prisons every year.  Arizona spends 60% more on prisons than higher education!  Why should Corrections grow while education, healthcare, and social services get slashed?

House Appropriations Committee Banning Public Testimony on the Budget!

Last week, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee announced it will not allow any public commentary during budget hearings

On Jan 28, the House banned protesting students from being physically present during the Committee meeting on education funding. At one point, the Sergeant At Arms closed the doors to the House and did not let the students enter.

StudentsBarredApprops1-28-16

This is why it is extremely important that you join in our Feb 1st DAY OF ACTION!

Continue reading

FEB 1 Day of Action Against New Prison Beds!

In his State of the State speech, Governor Doug Ducey said:

“And, if we’re serious about reducing recidivism – and reversing the growth of our prison population, let’s begin by building on the model already working in Pima County: a community corrections center, providing tough love and on-site drug treatment and counseling.”

Gov. Ducey is making positive steps to reduce the Arizona prison population by supporting incarcerated individuals prior to their release by hiring a Reentry Coordinator, and endorsing funding for a Maricopa Community Corrections Center.

Yet his budget recommendation proposed $17.6 million for 2,000 new private prison beds.  That is more than 10 times the amount he wants to spend on the long-term, sustainable solutions to reducing our prison population. Gov. Ducey’s support for reentry and community corrections is a step in the right direction, and if done well, can reduce our prison population dramatically.

His recommendations, combined with proposed legislation for increased releases into the Transition Program means we do not need more prison beds.

Contact Gov. Ducey and key legislators on Monday, February 1st! Continue reading

Public Hearings for Proposed CCA Private Prison in Eloy 11/17/15

jp-PRISONS-1-articleLargeThe Arizona Department of Corrections has given a green light for a contract with a private, for-profit correctional management corporations for the construction and management of up to 2,000 additional state prison beds. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was the sole bidder. It has proposed to build a prison in either Eloy or Yuma.

The Department of Corrections will be holding public hearings in the two towns under consideration for a new prison.  The public is encouraged to attend and voice their concerns about having a private prison as a neighbor.

So far only one of the hearings has been scheduled:

Tuesday, November 17th, 5-7pm

Santa Cruz Valley High School Auditorium,

900 N Main St, Eloy, AZ 85131

We need your help to stop this prison. 

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Spread the word.Please go through your contacts and find everyone you know who lives in Pinal County-old college roommates, second cousin twice removed-anyone! Let them know about the hearing and ask them to tell their neighbors. It is very important that people from the local communities come and have a voice. Please send this email to anyone you think would be interested in getting involved.
  2. Write a letter to the editorsaying you don’t want more private prisons. If you live in or near Eloy, please write a letter to the local paper there. We can get you the email to send them to, and we have lots of material if you need background information, facts and figures, etc.
  3. Attend the hearing.If you are in Tucson, we will be carpooling from the AFSC office. Call or email to arrange for a ride. We will reimburse people for gas if you end up driving for the carpool. We will also provide you with talking points and questions to ask.It is critical that we have a strong presence at these hearings. PLEASE consider attending!

Questions?  Want to get involved?  Contact AFSC at 520.623.9141 or email cisaacs@afsc.org

ACTION ALERT: NO MORE PRISONS! SENTENCING REFORM NOW!

stop flushing arizonas future

Tell the Governor and legislative leadership NO MORE PRISON BEDS!

Even after the most recent riots at the Kingman prison and Gov. Ducey’s decision to cancel the contract with MTC, The Arizona Department of Corrections has submitted a FY2017 budget request for ANOTHER 2,500 more prison beds. That’s in addition to the 2,000 beds that are currently out to bid. 

We don’t need more prisons. Crime rates are down in Arizona and the prison population is likely to decline due to low numbers of new court commitments.

Building more and more prisons is unsustainable, unaffordable, and ineffective. Arizona must follow the lead of states like Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas and take action to safely reduce our prison population through evidence-based sentencing reforms.

PLEASE CALL GOVERNOR DUCEY AND STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS AND TELL THEM NO MORE PRISONS!

(Calling is always more effective than email, but any contact is better than none.  Make your voice heard!)

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey: Phoenix: 602.542.4331; Tucson: 520.628.6580; engage@az.gov

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

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

Continue reading

For-Profit Prisons Threaten Public Safety

Last week, the Kingman state prison, operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), saw the latest in a string of riots. After several days of unrest, nine prison staff and seven incarcerated people were injured and the facilities were so badly damaged that the state is moving over 1,000 people out of the prison.

Sadly, this horrific situation is not new—for MTC or any other for-profit prison corporation. Simply put, you get what you pay for.

As far back as 2005, the Kingman facility experienced over “13 instances of large groups of inmates refusing directives and/or chasing staff off the yard.” In 2010, two people escaped from the facility and murdered a couple vacationing in New Mexico.

The Arizona Department of Corrections investigation into the escapes found that the alarm systems had been malfunctioning in the prison for over two years, but MTC failed to fix them. Why? Because it would cost too much money.

This is not an isolated case of a few bad apples. These problems are inherent in the business model of for-profit incarceration. These corporations are in business to make money first, and public safety comes second. Consider the competition:

    • CCA’s Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) had more assaults than all other Idaho prisons combined. Dubbed the “Gladiator School,” video footage showed a prisoner being severely beaten by another inmate, pleading for help as CCA guards looked on. CCA lost its $30 million contract for the prison with the state, and the FBI launched an investigation into the company in 2014.
    • The Texas Observer called the state’s CCA-run Dawson State Jail “the worst state jail in Texas.” Seven inmates have died in Dawson since 2004, generally due to medical neglect and malpractice. One prisoner gave birth to a premature baby after CCA guards refused her cries for medical attention. The baby was delivered in a prison toilet with no medical assistance and died four days later.
    • GEO Group lost a contract in Mississippi after a federal judge called the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.
    • GEO Group signed a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor after being cited for failure to provide adequate staffing of correctional officers; fix malfunctioning cell door locks; and provide required training and personal protective equipment to protect employees from stabbings, bites and other injuries.

Of course, the state Department of Corrections is far from blameless. As far back as 2011, the Arizona Auditor General dinged the Department for its failure to properly manage its private prison contracts. Even when there are monumental failures, there appears to be no accountability for Arizona’s private prison contractors.

In about two weeks, all three of these companies (and probably others) will likely be submitting bids for up to 2,000 more medium security prison beds. In light of this latest fiasco, Governor Ducey has an obligation to stop the bidding process—at least until the investigation into the Kingman riots is complete. None of these companies deserve another billion dollar 20-year contract.

The riots in the MTC prison represent more than a costly blunder—they are a betrayal of the public’s trust. Our state leaders have handed over control of this critical public safety function to corporations that put their shareholder’s interests ahead of ours. We cannot afford to make this mistake again.

TAKE ACTION!!

Please SEND AN EMAIL to Gov. Ducey’s staff and the Department of Corrections!: CLICK HERE

They need to hear from the people of this state before the July 22nd deadline for private prison bids.

Sign the petition and flood social media! No New Prison! #50Million4AZ

Arizona is making headlines for its draconian budget cuts. State per-pupil spending is among the lowest in the nation. Arizona is the only state to toss poor people off of welfare assistance after just 12 months. College students are facing rising tuition costs and years of debt.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Corrections is moving ahead with a plan to build up to 2,000 more private prison beds. The cost of this expansion is estimated around $50 million in just the first year or two.

But we have a choice—A choice our state leaders have not yet been courageous enough to make. We can choose to invest in education, not incarceration. In community, not cages. In common-sense, prevention and treatment services instead of costly punishment.

We need you to help us amplify that message. Tell the Governor and Dept of Corrections what YOU would spend $50 million on in Arizona.

A statewide coalition of groups is working together to send a message that the plan to expand our prison system is out of step with what most Arizonans want. AFSC is joined by Protecting Arizona’s Families Coalition (PAFCO), the YWCA of Southern Arizona, the NAACP of Maricopa County, Arizona Justice Alliance, and other groups in taking this campaign out into cyberspace!

TODAY, Tuesday June 16, we are asking everyone to do the following:

  1. Sign the RFP2015petition
  2. Change your cover picture on Facebook to send a message about YOUR priorities. You can download them here or on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AFSCArizona
  3. Tweet your sign, and messages to the Governor (@DougDucey) using the hashtag, #50million4AZ. Please consider also including us in your tweet: @afscaz.

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