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Opposites Unite Over Criminal Justice Reform

The Coalition for Public Safety is a group that is made up of some startling adversaries. Both liberal and conservative, or “left” and “right” respectively, groups have united to address criminal justice issues, according to reports. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with over-criminalization and mass incarceration becoming major factors in most states, including Arizona. The current situation is the result of several decades of what some call overreaching and others call over-correction on the part of the federal government. Liberals such as Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy originally pushed for longer mandatory sentencing in the 1990s along with conservatives who have advocated more personal responsibility for criminal activity. Now, however, that zealousness may have reached a saturation point as the nation’s jails are full to overflowing.

How To Change The Criminal Justice System

While these disparate groups do not agree on everything, they have found some common ground with the following goals:

  • Lower mandatory sentencing requirements for non-violent drug offenders. Drug-sentencing reform bills are currently making their way through the House of Representatives.
  • Curb law enforcement’s power to seize assets. Both groups readily agree that the government has, in many cases, far overstepped itself.
  • Use of new monitoring technology for probation and house arrest.
  • Development of early release programs, including job training and drug rehab.
  • Use of risk-assessment techniques to rank parole candidates and provide interventions based on the likelihood of repeat offenses.

Arizona Number Six in Incarcerations

While Arizona has a relatively small population, the state is sixth nationwide in incarceration rates, with 600 of every 100,000 people behind bars. This puts Arizona’s incarceration rate 50 percent higher than the national average. One effect of this high rate is to increase the strain on state budget. However, lawmakers in Arizona have been loath to tackle the issue, perhaps because of perceptions that Arizona voters want a tough crime stance. Now, with a new coalition encompassing both extremes of the political spectrum, Arizona may have a national model to look to for guidance in how to bring warring state factions together to effect true criminal justice reform. If you have been accused of a crime, you deserve the best possible defense. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Oswalt Law Group in Phoenix for help. We can represent you and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the criminal justice process.

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