Justice for all.
In Arizona we value liberty and individual freedom.
When it comes to crime, it is important that we make sure our streets our safe, and our families are protected. That means we have to be smart – and not just tough – on crime.
Today Arizona has the 6th highest incarceration rate in the United States, which means on a per capita basis we have the 6th highest incarceration rate in the world. Month after month we imprison more people for nonviolent felony drug offenses than for any other type of crime. This costs Arizona tax payers billions of dollars; in fact, we spend more tax money on each inmate in the Arizona Department of Corrections than we do on each K-12 student in Arizona public schools. It is also a human tragedy and a gross violation of human rights.
This has to change.
Here’s how we will reform the criminal justice system so that it protects families, protects individual liberty, and saves money.
Guiding Principles for Criminal Justice Reform
1. The great state of Arizona should be a model in the nation for human rights. Arizona does not have more criminals than other states (or nations!) – we need to fix our broken criminal justice system.
2. Focus on prosecuting violent crime and sex crime.
3. Move our system toward a restorative justice model that prioritizes making crime victims whole again and also ends mass recidivism (people who exit prison committing crimes and ending up back in jail).
4. Save billions of taxpayer dollars by ending the current system of mass incarceration, which imprisons people on a scale unlike anything else on earth.
5. The war on drugs has failed. We need to radically rethink our drug policy to save lives, protect our neighborhoods, and stop wasting tax dollars.
6. Acknowledge and root out the racial bias in our criminal justice system, which hurts both victims and those accused of committing a crime.
Key policy proposals
1. Decriminalize marijuana and treat drug possession and drug use as public health challenges, not criminal justice problems.
The war on drugs has failed. Addicts do not get cured in prison, and Arizona taxpayers should not be forced to pay for a failed public policy that has unfairly imprisoned millions of people over the last five decades. We are going to decriminalize marijuana and use the lucrative tax proceeds to reinvigorate our public schools, and fund a public health system that treats and cures addiction, instead of punishing it.
2. Do not renew any contracts with private prison corporations, and pledge that all of Arizona’s prisons and jails will become and remain public institutions.
Private prisons are a human rights violation. No company or individual should be allowed to profit off the imprisonment of human beings. This is one step removed from slavery, and the fact that private prisons thrive in Arizona is a profound insult to every decent Arizonan. We will end the practice of allowing private companies to profit off of crime and punishment.
3. Automatically expunge a person’s first non-violent felony conviction after they have completed their sentence.
One single mistake should not ruin a person’s life forever. For first time, non-violent offenders who have completed their sentence, I will work to pass legislation that will expunge their record to make it easier for them to find a job, pay their taxes, and move on from their mistake.
4. Commit to ending the racial disparities, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that plague our justice system.
Every ethnicity commits crime at the same rate, yet in Arizona the incarceration rate for African-Americans is five times higher than the rate for Caucasians. The rate for Native Americas is 3.5 times higher than the rate for Caucasians, and for Hispanics it is more than 2 times higher. We will end the over-policing, over-prosecuting, and over-imprisoning of our communities of color. Further, we will ensure that everyone employed within the criminal justice system is trained in recognizing and rooting out bias of every kind, so that crime victims are treated with equal respect and attention, across race, ethnicity, etc.
5. Encourage law enforcement to adopt cooperative, community policing models that increase public trust in our law enforcement officials, especially among minority communities.
Our law enforcement officers do a difficult job for too little pay, and we need to trust that they are doing their jobs well. We will end the militarization of our police, and improve the antagonistic relationship that all too often exists between our police departments and minority communities. We will empower our police officers to return to their original, time-honored duties; protecting and serving all Arizonans.
6. Reinvigorate state and local programs that provide recently released prisoners with housing assistance, job training, and employment opportunities.
Once a person is released from prison they have paid their debt to society. We will automatically restore their civil rights and right to vote upon release. We will provide recently released prisoners with the resources and opportunities they need to get jobs, pay taxes, and become productive members of society. People with no education and job prospects are far more likely to return to a life a crime, furthering endangering our communities and draining our public resources.
7. Abolish the death penalty in Arizona.
The death penalty has been under scrutiny in Arizona since a horrifyingly botched execution in 2014. Although final clemency power lies with the governor, according to the Arizona state constitution, this power has been limited by Arizona statute. The governor cannot grant a reprieve, commutation or pardon unless it has first been recommended by the Board of Clemency – and the Board has never issued a recommendation to pardon or commute the sentence of a death row petitioner. The death penalty is a violation of the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment, it is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice. It has become almost impossible to carry out, as states have found it difficult to access the necessary drugs, and it is a financial drain on our system. It is time for Arizona to join the 40 other states that have abolished the death penalty and/or have not carried out an execution in the past five years or more. I will appoint members to the Board of Clemency who are committed to human rights and I will work to pass legislation that will abolish the death penalty in our state.