Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Local Prisoner Advocacy Organization Launches Statewide Ballot Initiative

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 3:32 PM

click to enlarge Banner of the new Second Chances, Rehabilitation & Public Safety Act - BETTERWAYAZ.COM
  • betterwayaz.com
  • Banner of the new Second Chances, Rehabilitation & Public Safety Act

The Arizona branch of American Friends Service Committee filed a ballot initiative called the Second Chances, Rehabilitation & Public Safety Act yesterday at Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs' office in Phoenix.

They have until July 2 to collect 237,645 valid signatures.

AFSC-AZ, headquartered here in Tucson, is a nonprofit organization that lobbies for criminal justice reform legislation at the state capital every year and conducts community outreach and research related to ending mass incarceration in Arizona.

Caroline Isaacs, the organization's director, described this ballot initiative as the "greatest hits" of all the reform bills they have tried to get passed in the legislature, but were unsuccessful.

If passed, the initiative would do four things:
  1. Allow people in prison serving time for non-dangerous offenses to earn additional earned release credits for good behavior and participation in rehabilitation programs. Arizona law mandates that every prisoner serve 85 percent of their sentence, no matter what. AFSC-AZ believes this will incentivize people in prison to rehabilitate themselves.

  2. Allow judges the ability to impose lesser sentences for non-dangerous offenses when doing so is "justified in the interest of justice, taking into account input from victims, individual circumstances, and rehabilitative options." This would combat the impact of mandatory minimum sentences.

  3. Clarify when a non-dangerous offender may be sentenced based on “a historical prior felony conviction.” Individuals are often faced with extensive prison sentences that come with the “repeat offender” distinction, which likely persuades them to take plea deals.

  4. Establish a fund that will provide services for victims of violent crime and ultimately prevent future crime, as well as address trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by first responders in the line of duty.
If they meet the signature requirements, this initiative would be presented on the Nov. 3, 2020 general election ballot. For more information, visit betterwayaz.com.

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