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Arizona Prosecutors Release New Report On State Prisoners
The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council put out a report on the state prison population this week.
According to the analysis of data from the Department of Corrections, 36 percent of prisoners return to prison within three years of their release.
More than half will return within 20 years.
Yavapai County Prosecutor Sheila Polk said the report generated questions regarding recidivism rates.
"What is happening in prison and what is happening after prison that we can examine and we can change and we can reduce the number of folks that are coming back?" she asked at a presentation of the report.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the report was paid for with RICO funds, or money seized in criminal investigations. He said the data is important to key policy decisions and suggested a state agency should be updating the reporting annually.
The report also concluded that 95 percent of inmates in state prisons are "violent or repeat offenders."
Becca Fealk with the American Friends Service Committee, takes issue with the way that number was reached.
"They're using Department of Corrections data," she said. "That doesn't really provide a whole picture of our criminal justice system and what's happening."
Fealk said sentencing laws in Arizona should also be taken into account.
"People in our state are often given the label of a repeat offender who have actually never been convicted of a crime because of factors like sentencing enhancements," she said.