The ACLU of Arizona Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce Arizona’s jail and prison population by 50% and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Our team consists of people who’ve spent time in Arizona prisons, people who have loved ones currently in prison, community leaders, and supporters.
WHY MUST WE END MASS INCARCERATION?
Imprisonment is a brutal and costly response to crime that traumatizes incarcerated people and hurts families and communities. Arizona has the fifth-highest incarceration rate in the United States and it’s disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx people.
JUST LOOK AT THE FACTS
Since 2004, Arizona’s prison population has grown by 60%.
On average, people released from Arizona prisons in 2016 served a 31% longer sentence than people released in 2009.
More than one in five people in Arizona prisons is serving time for a drug-related offense.
In 2017, marijuana-related charges dominated prison admissions.
According to a report by Fwd.us, Hispanic people comprised 31% of Arizona’s state population in 2017 but 37% of people admitted to prison.
Black people were over-represented at an even higher rate, comprising five percent of the state population but 13% of prison admissions.
In three decades, Arizona’s general fund spending on corrections has grown 241 percent. In 2016, Arizona spent more than $1 billion on corrections. That’s more than we spend on higher education.
The ACLU of Arizona advocates at the state Capitol for earned release credit legislation that will allow people to earn time off their prison sentence if they participate in work, education, or treatment programs.
The ACLU of Arizona works to reform the culture of county attorneys’ offices by taking legal action, demanding transparency, educating voters, and encouraging local elected county attorneys to reimagine the role they play in the justice system.
The ACLU of Arizona is working to end the criminal justice system’s reliance on cash bail and to dramatically reduce pretrial detention while combating bias and systemic racism in the pretrial process.