Arizona Prison Oversight Bill Unanimously Approved By Criminal Justice Reform Committee

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 5:18pm
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 9:56am
Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Walter Blackman in February 2020.

Several bills made it through the state House Committee on Criminal Justice Reform on Wednesday. One piece of legislation would create an oversight body to investigate conditions in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Chaired by Rep. Walt Blackman, the committee heard a slate of bills that would impact sentencing and conditions in state prisons.

A bill to create an ombudsman and a committee to bring more oversight of the Department of Corrections passed unanimously.

Lillian Coppes, whose husband is incarcerated, told the committee about the difficulty she has faced tracking her husband's well-being.

“The anxiety and frustration that I experienced during those weeks where DOC never responded to my calls, are feelings that I would not wish on my worst enemy,” she said.

The bill is modeled after a similar position in Washington state and would fund the oversight office with an annual budget of $1.5 million.

Politics Arizona Prisons