Arizona prosecutors are apparently hoping to slow down or halt prison reform methods by offering data on the types of criminals currently incarcerated in the state’s prisons, according to a recent report. The newly-issued report seeks to debunk claims by prison reform advocates that many of Arizona’s 41,000 prisoners are low-level offenders who would be better served with probation or other penalties.
The study was commissioned by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council and claims that 70.7 percent of inmates in jails around the state are being held for “violent crimes.” Adding in repeat offenders brings the total to 95 percent. The data tracks prison populations since 1971.
However, not everyone believes this data is being accurately represented. One public defender voiced concern that including repeat offenders meant that those who had committed several drug violations were included in the total, even if the inmate was simply arrested for possession of the drug. He also said that “violent crimes” is classified to mean not only crimes of a physical nature such as robbery or rape but also possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and other crimes that are not necessarily violent in and of themselves.
While the topic of prison reform remains controversial, advocates on both sides of the issue agree that there are no easy answers. The state is facing a tremendous budget shortfall, and state corrections are a prime target for budget cuts. Therefore, it is likely that some prisons will be released no matter what the study’s findings, and few will receive any type of treatment for the issues that may contribute to their criminal activities.
While most people acknowledge that treatment is preferable to incarceration, a lack of funded programs often leads to shutdowns of agencies that could possibly help first-time offenders or those who are at risk.
If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to have professional legal representation. Depending on the nature of your crime, you may be able to avoid some or all of the jail time associated with a conviction as well as reduce your fines, probation and other penalties. Contact Alex Lane in Phoenix today for help from an attorney with years of experience in representing those charged with various types of criminal offenses.
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