The Second Chances Act is a statewide ballot initiative designed to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and save taxpayers money.
This is built on the premise that the most important goal of our corrections system is public safety. To achieve that, our criminal justice system must work to rehabilitate people and stop the cycle of crime.
Today, there are too many people warehoused in prison for non-dangerous crimes and long after they’re a risk to public safety. Many return to communities unprepared for release and unable to contribute productively to our communities.
In fact, over the past 20 years, Arizona’s prison population has increased by nearly 300%, and the budget for Arizona’s prison system has increased by more than 400%, despite a drop in violent crime.
More than a billion dollars – one of every $11 dollars in the state’s general fund – is spent on incarceration and corrections. By simply bringing Arizona’s corrections policy up to modern standards, more money would be available for important priorities including crime prevention, mental health treatment, education and infrastructure.
A non-partisan coalition of local and national experts on criminal justice and public safety began working on the policy in early 2019 and sought input from leaders in law enforcement, criminal justice, mental health, substance abuse and victims services.
They found that the best practices in reducing recidivism require a criminal justice system that holds people accountable, prepares them for release, gives judges discretion to impose the most appropriate sentence, uses taxpayer dollars wisely and provides victims of crimes help to recover. This initiative incorporates each of these best practices.
The act is currently collecting the roughly 238,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify.