Bipartisan Coalition Asks Arizona House Speaker To Reinstate Criminal Justice Study Committee

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 7:46pm
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 12:18pm

Reform groups are calling on Arizona’s House speaker to reinstate a committee he recently dissolved that was tasked with looking at criminal justice issues.

After Rep. David Stringer made controversial statements about immigration, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard dissolved the Criminal Justice Reform study committee, which Stringer chaired.

A spokesman for Mesnard said he ended the committee because he wanted to “create a separation between the issue and Rep. Stringer, given the controversy and distraction his comments created.”

But several reform groups are asking the speaker to reinstate the committee, calling its abolishment “unnecessary and counterproductive.”

A bipartisan coalition sent a letter to Mesnard on Wednesday, saying “Common sense criminal justice reform in Arizona will improve public safety, prevent prison overcrowding and construction, reduce wasteful spending, and increase respect for the justice system, particularly in the communities of color disproportionately impacted by that system.”

Chalon Hutson, spokesman for the Arizona Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said the committee had widespread bipartisan support because of the goals outlined in its charter, like reducing recidivism.

“I think whether it’s the left, the right or the middle — just about everybody agrees with that,” he said. “So I think that’s why there’s a lot of room to actually go and achieve some of these policies that will get us there.”

While Mesnard said he would not oppose the committee continuing to work in an unofficial capacity, Hutson said a reinstatement would give the committee more legitimacy when they bring their ideas to the next legislative session.