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May 19, 2011

In Arizona, there are "[m]ore conservatives joining push to change sentencing guidelines"

The quote in the title of this post is the headline of this effective lengthy article in from a local Arizona media outlet.  Here are snippets from the reporting:

Since the late 1970s, state and federal lawmakers have reacted to rising crime and the illicit drug trade by mandating prison time for many non-violent offenses, ranging from driving under the influence to possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Those sentencing guidelines also targeted repeat offenders regardless of whether their offenses were violent.

Advocates, generally offering a liberal perspective, have responded that eliminating the options of fines, work release, substance-abuse treatment and house arrest in favor of prison time can turn non-violent offenders into career criminals.  Losing contact with their families, communities and jobs contributes to this, they argue.

As states face large budget deficits, calls for reforming sentencing for non-violent offenders also are coming increasingly from conservatives who call prison costs unsustainable....

The Goldwater Institute, a private think tank dedicated to limited government and free markets, has included alternative sentences for non-violent offenders in its recommendations for reducing the state budget.

Byron Schlomach, director for the Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity, said judges and juries should be allowed to look at whether options other than incarceration would allow low-risk offenders to earn money to pay restitution and help cover the cost of their supervision.  “Anything that’s cheaper than what we are spending on incarcerated individuals now -- that’s just fiscal sense,” he said.  “So why wouldn’t we do that, especially if there’s evidence, and there is, that it’s at least as effective as a deterrent on future crime as the current system is.”

Schlomach said he sees a “weird confluence” of liberal and conservative arguments on the subject.  “That just sounds all kinds of conservative to me, and it also sounds merciful to these other people who come from a different point of view,” he said.

May 19, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Two points: In case it was not apparent, the Goldwater Institute is generally considered libertarian, not conservative. As I understand it, the “local” media outlet is part of Arizona State University’s School of Journalism.

Posted by: mahtso | May 19, 2011 12:07:09 PM

Totally irresponsible and biased. There are no low risk individuals in stir. That reform is already in place.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 22, 2011 5:55:19 AM

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