Florence - (March 30, 2010) Over 94 percent of Arizona inmates are either violent or repeat felony offenders or both according to the report, “Prisoners in Arizona: A Profile of the Inmate Population,” released today by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC). The report offers an accurate, comprehensive and vivid portrait of our state’s prison inmates and counters the erroneous belief that many of the inmates in Arizona’s state prisons are first-time or non-violent offenders.
In November 2009 the Arizona Prosecuting Attorney’s Advisory Council (APAAC) commissioned a study of state prisoners to find data-supported answers to questions that come up many times in the media and in legislative committees.
Past statements of both critics and advocates of the Arizona system of corrections have often been based on anecdotal evidence. This study was commissioned to put an end to that speculation.
“This report will inform the public and policy makers who might be considering reform measures or even early release of prisoners,” Pinal County Attorney James P. Walsh said.
Also, the study was necessary at a time of state budget cuts. Arizona Department of Corrections represents about 12 percent of the state budget (about one billion dollars) and may be vulnerable to cuts. In October 2009 the Department of Corrections faced the possibility of a 15 percent budget cut. Such a cut might lead to consideration of an early release program.
“Law enforcement officials – police, sheriffs, prosecutors – work hard to take violent and repetitive criminals off the streets,” Walsh said. “This report confirms that those behind bars are the ones most likely to endanger our communities.”
The study shows that 38,088 inmates (94.2 percent of almost 41,000 inmates) are either repeat felony offenders or have a history of felony violence.
“The people of Arizona need to have accurate information about the makeup of the prison population before any major policy decisions are made,” Walsh said.
According to this report only 5.8 percent of inmates are non-violent, first-time offenders.