HB2521 pertains to earned release credits. Currently, the director of the department may grant early release on the ratio of one day for every seven days served - 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 bill would offer a highly motivating incentive for inmates convicted of a nonviolent offense to stay out of trouble and participate in rehabilitative programs, by giving them a release credit of one day for every three days served instead of one day for every 7 days. This would not apply to prisoners convicted of serious, violent or aggravated felonies as defined in Sec. 13-706.
The Arizona Auditor General estimates that such a change could result in significant cost savings for taxpayers: For every day that an inmate spends on community supervision (parole) rather than prison, the State would save an estimated $4.62, which represents the difference between the daily marginal cost of housing an inmate in a state-operated prison compared to supervising an inmate on parole in fiscal year 2009.
HB2522 pertains to prescriptive sentencing. As many of you know, one of the policies driving our high incarceration rate is mandatory sentencing — laws that remove a judge’s ability to hand down an appropriate sentence, and instead obligate a one-size-fits-all approach. The current prescriptive sentencing provisions have led to many unduly harsh and lengthy sentences which are an affront to what is fair and just. The purpose of this bill is to simplify the sentencing statutes by eliminating the strict intermediate prescriptive categories of sentencing, leaving the “mitigating” category as the minimum sentence, and leaving the “aggravated” category as the maximum sentence. This would broaden the range of of sentencing options available to the judges and give them a "safety valve," so that they could more appropriately fit the sentence to the severity of the crime instead of being cornered by a technicality that results in a breach of justice. It is important to note that this modification would NOT stop judges from applying the more severe mandatory or prescriptive provisions where appropriate,
HB2523 eliminates the $25 background check required for visitors to inmates in the Arizona Department of Corrections.HB2531 allows the director of the Department of Correction to parole inmates whose physical disabilities have incapacitated them, so that they are no longer a threat to the safety of the public.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007