No other state in the country imprisons Latinos at such a high rate. Only in three other states are greater percentages of the population behind bars. To top it off, far more of Arizona's prisoners are incarcerated for possessing or selling drugs than for any other crime, like assault, burglary, or driving under the influence. These are among the key findings from a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona.
The 17-page report, Blueprint for Smart Justice, (below), suggests that Arizona's criminal justice system is expensive, discriminates unfairly against minorities, and doesn't keep communities safer or reduce recidivism. Phoenix New Times received an advance copy of the report.
"We believe that the Arizona criminal justice system needs to be radically changed," said Alessandra Soler, the executive director of ACLU Arizona, in an interview on Tuesday. "We wanted to highlight the bigger picture, disturbing trends, and why Arizona is such an outlier, why we're at the top of the list."
The report homed in on two factors. One is Arizona's lack of early-release programs, stemming from Arizona's 1993 "truth-in-sentencing" law, which requires prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. The other reason is mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
ACLU Arizona's New Report on the Criminal Justice System
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