Reforming Sentencing Policies and Practices in Arizona

Cassia Spohn.

The early 1970s witnessed calls for reductions in state and federal prison populations and predictions that the use of incarceration would decline. For example, in 1973 the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, which concluded that “[t]he prison, the reformatory, and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure,” recommended that “no new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed.” These calls for reductions in the use of incarceration, however, fell on deaf ears. Rather than declining, America’s imprisonment rate, which had fluctuated around a mean of 110 individuals per 100,000 population for most of the twentieth century, increased every year from 1975 to 2007. In fact, the state and federal prison population increased from 300,000 to 1.6 million between 1975 and 2007, a fivefold increase. Although the number of persons incarcerated declined by 6.7% from 2007 to 2017, there were still almost 1.5 million individuals serving time in state and federal prisons in 2017.

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