New Study Shows Arizona Criminal Justice System Needs To Work Smarter

By Holliday Moore, Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 8:37am
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 11:55am

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A new study on Arizona's criminal justice system has exposed a weakness in its "tough on crime" policies.

A study by the Arizona Town Hall association found Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country and, as a result, among the highest incarceration costs.

After 16 public meetings with citizens, law enforcement and prisoners around the state, the association released a study recommending the criminal justice system work smarter.

It called for system-wide changes to behavioral health and prison reform programs.

"We know from not only from the research, but all of the discussions we had with thousands of Arizonans around the state, that treating mental illness and substance abuse in more preventable ways, than putting somebody in prison, can have a much better outcome," said Tara Jackson with Arizona Town Hall.

She added that the state spends about a billion dollars a year on incarcerating its more than 33,000 convicted felons.

The study suggests spending more of those dollars toward prevention including job training, affordable housing and healthcare — including mental health and drug addiction programs.

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