Public safety and criminal justice policy is at a crossroads in Arizona. Despite overwhelming evidence that states can safely reduce crime and incarceration through commonsense reforms, Arizona continues to be a national outlier with high imprisonment rates and rising corrections spending.
This is no small matter. Arizona’s imprisonment crisis removes thousands of people from the economy and costs taxpayers more than $1 billion each year — preventing the state from investing in other critical priorities like education, social services for families, and child safety. Despite this steep price, the system does not make Arizona safer. Simply put, the state’s high imprisonment rate is hurting Arizona’s economy, communities, and families.
This report, created using individual-level data on people admitted to Arizona prisons, will be released in three parts throughout the fall of 2018. This first part focuses on the causes of Arizona’s prison population growth and the consequences for Arizona’s economy. The second part reveals how Arizona’s imprisonment crisis affects some communities more than others, and the third part examines the dire consequences for Arizona’s women and families. Experts on corrections data cleaned and analyzed Arizona’s prison data in accordance with national standards. See our methodology for a description of our process and definitions.
Why Focus on Prisons?
Why focus on prisons?
When someone is convicted of a felony in Arizona, a prison sentence is one of many possible responses. Other options include community-based treatment, drug courts, and probation. Of all these options, prison is the harshest, most expensive response, and often the least effective. This report examines the way that Arizona has increasingly used prison to punish people who have committed offenses better addressed in the community, and how people in Arizona spend more time in prison than ever before.