Those seeking a preview of
future Arizona-centric battles over criminal
sentencing reform gained some insight at a
February 14 event. At the ASU Sandra Day
O’Connor College of Law, a debate—of
sorts—was waged between law professor
Carissa Hessick and Maricopa County
Attorney Bill Montgomery.
The two advocates—Hessick resisted calling them “adversaries,” at least during the
debate’s first half—came to the topic following an ample and growing history of sentencing reform struggles, both national and local.
As one state after another finds itself
pinching even the slimmest of pennies, the
cost of long prison incarceration has come
Most recently, the Arizona Auditor
General issued a report detailing the costs,
which have spiked upward and are expected
to skyrocket over the coming decade. Among
• While the State’s population has doubled
in about the last 30 years, its prison pop-
ulation has increased tenfold.
• The Legislature has appropriated almost
$949 million to the Department of
Corrections (DOC) for 2011.
• The DOC expects the prison population
to grow to nearly 50,000 inmates by
2016, although that number continues
to be revised.
• The DOC expects to add 6,500 more
private prison beds and 2,000 state beds
through 2017. The total estimated cost
will be about $975 million.
February’s debate was spurred by another
report, this one emerging from the law
school’s Public Policy Incubator Program.
Titled “Sentencing in Arizona:
Recommendations to Reduce Cost and
Crime,” it is a compilation of strategies
nationwide that have shown success in differ-
ent jurisdictions. The law school’s Hessick
was the principal investigator, and her
research and writing team included seven
Read More Sentencing Reports and Proposals
Arizona Auditor General, “Department of Corrections Performance Audit”
ASU Law School, “Sentencing in Arizona: Recommendations to Reduce Cost and Crime”
Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council, “Prisoners in Arizona: A Profile of the Inmate Population”
Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, “Turning the Corner: Opportunities for Effective Sentencing and Incarceration Practices in Arizona”