Reform Group Publishes Research On Arizona's Drug Sentencing Policy

Published: Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 10:10am
Updated: Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 3:12pm

According to new research conducted by the American Friends Service Committee, drug crimes are the single largest category of offense sending inmates to Arizona prisons.

The reform group hired researchers to aggregate data from Maricopa, Pima and Yavapai counties to try to get a better understanding of the effectiveness of Arizona’s drug sentencing practices.

Caroline Isaacs is a co-author of the paper. She said prosecutors vary widely in their use of mandatory sentence enhancements for drug crimes, but the most common is denial of probation.

“When you remove the lowest possible penalty, everything else gets racheted up one level, which makes the entire sentencing code more strict,” Isaacs said.

The research found nine of the 10 most common drug offenses in Maricopa County in 2015 were charges for use, possession and paraphernalia, but not trafficking.

The authors argue that drug abuse should be treated as a chronic illness rather than a criminal behavior.

Joining The Show is Rebecca Fealk, a program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee in the Arizona Office. Listen to the interview here.

AFSC Drug Sentencing Report

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