The Truth About Public Safety
Americans today are experiencing historic lows in crime and those living in Arizona and Maricopa County even more so. In fact, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report reveals that Arizona’s crime rates are at 45 – 50 year lows, with all-time lows in our murder, burglary and motor vehicle theft rates. Additionally, the Arizona prison population for October of 2016 is lower than what it was one year prior. That Arizona citizens may not be aware of these facts could be ascribed to the sad reality that good news about efforts to address crime represents an inconvenient truth undermining the poorly defined and ill-supported argument for “criminal justice reform.”
As chief prosecutor in the country’s fourth most populous county, I am determined to provide clarity in addressing criminal justice issues. It is imperative that we work with objective facts. We cannot have informed discussions about areas where our criminal justice system can and does need improvement if the discussions start from a false premise or tortured statistics.
One persistent misleading point is the use of the undefined throw-away term “mass incarceration.” Without understanding who is in prison, discussing how many people are in prison serves no real purpose for assessing the performance of our criminal justice system. If we had 40,000 serial murderers in our prison system, no one would argue we have too many serial murderers incarcerated. We might ask the better question of why we have so many serial murders or offenders of any other specific type of crime. If we begin with who is in prison we can better assess efforts at deterrence and the even better focus of reducing recidivism. Studies on who is in Arizona’s prisons can be found at: www.azsentencing.org
One other myth stridently held onto regarding prison populations is that they are predominantly made up of “low-level drug offenders.” For us in Arizona, our prisons are populated by violent and/or repetitive felons and reflect Arizona’s status as a major thoroughfare for drug smuggling. Those are the facts. You can keep up to speed on incarceration data at: https://corrections.az.gov/reports-documents/reports/corrections-glance
I do not pretend to have all the answers, just a commitment to speak the truth and see that justice is done. I hope you will find this blog informative, entertaining, and a useful resource for a broad array of criminal justice topics.