The administrative contact person for the committee appears to be his assistant, Maureen WIlliams, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-926-3695 - I'd suggest sending any additional remarks you have for the committee to her. Please do so, if you have anything constructive to add at all - but read the whole set of meeting minutes at the Legs website first - we need to respond directly to Fischer's report; Mona Lynch did a lot towards that end.
This comes to us from Camille Tilley, by the way - she's on top of all of this better than I am most days.
HOUSE STUDY COMMITTEE ON SENTENCING
Mohave County for 33 years where she interacted with many people in the criminal justice system from the judiciary to the prisons. She believes it will be possible to develop a better product that will serve everyone while preserving public safety, which is first and foremost, and fiscally watching taxpayer dollars.
- The projected cost of between $1.5 billion to $2 billion to build prisons and $40 million to run each prison per year was not incurred, but about $240 million was used for the additional programs.
- To date, the prison population has been reduced by about 2,500 prisoners.
- It is difficult to measure success for recidivism because there is a three-year measurement period, but some intermediate tracking can be done. The parole revocation rate dropped by 29 percent the first year and another 3 percent in the second year, and there were fewer people in the juvenile and adult probation systems.
- Crime rates and violent crime rates are down.
- The state is having trouble filling the additional 3,200 specialty beds for drug abusers because the specialty courts were increased and are keeping people out of the facilities and within the community, which means crime victims are being paid, more child support is being paid and the taxpayer burden is lessened.
- The revised forecast indicates there is no need to build new prison beds, at least in the next three to five years.
Representative Madden replied that there was not an early release program specifically, but people were eligible for parole review and the Parole Board was asked to look at the parole rates. A risk analysis was already set up by the Legislature as a guideline for parole, which was not changed, but by putting programs in place, providing intermediate sanction facilities and additional caseload funding, parole departments can watch parolees better within the community. Some people will probably not endanger public safety while on parole, which otherwise might have been put aside for another year or two.
13 specific recommendations (Attachment 1).
Dr. Fischer replied that he developed a risk assessment instrument for ADC that sorts offenders into high, medium and low-risk groups. Low-risk inmates will succeed no matter what is done for them; high-risk inmates have recidivism rates that seem to be relatively insensitive to much intervention; and the medium-risk (swing) group can go either way, which is where he believes the majority of resources in the prison system should be diverted to try to rehabilitate.
Judith Greene tells how four states greatly reduced the prison population. Ms. Lynch made the following suggestions:
- Decide which offenders need to be in state custody as opposed to alternative local sanctions, calculate the optimal size to work with for long-term planning, make sure offenses that might be better addressed at the local level are legally eligible for local sanctions and consider whether the marginal cost of some lengthy sentences outweighs the marginal gains financially and on public safety grounds.
- Build upon successes such as the incentive program mentioned by Senator Huppenthal.
- Incentivize counties to manage offenders locally, develop effective crime prevention and/or early intervention programs and discourage sending an inordinate number of offenders to the state for incarceration.
- For offenders in prison, adequately fund custodial and after-care interventions that have been demonstrated to reduce recidivism.
- Consider using “carrots” and “sticks” to encourage local collaboration in these kinds of efforts.
- Why has the required time to serve been changed from 65 to 85 percent?
- There is no consideration in the laws for early release for sex offenders, especially the non-contact, non-dangerous, non-violent, no possession of child pornography types.
- It is against the U.S. Constitution and it should be against state law to create and punish a class of people for the rest of their lives.
- Why is computer not included in the classification of A.R.S. Section 13-3553 since sexual exploitation of a minor is not clearly defined; it is a computer crime and should be properly identified as such.
- Grouping all sex crimes together is too much.
- There is great disparity of punishment for child pornography possession countrywide. California classifies child pornography as a misdemeanor and New Mexico does not even apply possession of child pornography. All other states apply minimal sentence times.
Courtney Bisbee, an honors graduate from the University of Southern Florida, came to Arizona with her husband, got a divorce and took a job at the Horizon High School in Paradise Valley. She has been in Perryville Prison for four-and-a-half years. She was arrested by a SWAT team at her home in Scottsdale in front of her four-year-old daughter because of a false allegation by a teenager. She said her daughter needs to be reunited with her daughter. She provided CDs, Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted [June 27, 2009] (Attachment 4) and Lawyers Anti-Andrew Thomas Protest [December 21, 2009] (Attachment 5).