'Repeat Offender' Bill Is Legislature's Last Criminal Justice Reform Effort

Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 1:29pm
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Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Ben Toma in 2017.

Over the past four decades, prison populations across the US have ballooned dramatically.

In Arizona it’s even more extreme. The state has one of the fastest growing prison populations in the nation, and it spends more than $1 billion on prisons each year.

At the beginning of this legislative session, it seemed like criminal justice reform would be a top priority for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Most of those bills have fallen to the wayside — except one.

Rep. Ben Toma’s criminal justice reform bill aims to change how people can be charged for crimes. His bill, HB 1334, would ensure that people can’t be sentenced as a "repeat offender" unless they have actually been previously convicted of a crime.

The Peoria Republican's bill has been criticized by some prosecutors in the state but, when The Show down with him in his office at the capitol, he said this is about reforming people.

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