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Brnovich: Arizona needs comprehensive criminal justice reform

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In the last few weeks, US Attorney Jeff Sessions has issued orders that could roll back recent national momentum on criminal justice reform. Meanwhile, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Arizona needs serious, comprehensive criminal justice reform.

“We need to put a greater emphasis on reducing recidivism,” said Brnovich.

Recidivism is the rate offenders get out, re-offend and then get locked up again.

“We call it the ‘correction system’ but you ask, well, how many people are actually being ‘corrected’ and rehabilitated?” He said what’s happening is people go to prison, then become unemployable or learn illegal skills while incarcerated.

“Then we as a society, we have to aggressively prosecute them,” he said. “Then you end up warehousing people.”

Unfortunately if they’re caught in that cycle, he said doesn’t have a choice.

“I can’t have people out robbing people, sticking guns in people’s heads, because I’m going to put them in prison for as long as possible,” he said.

Brnovich said he is in favor of drug treatment and other diversion programs, but it’s up to Arizona policy makers to develop and implement those changes.

“If you can divert folks and not get them into the system to be proactive, it’s something we should be doing,” he said.

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