Arizona’s prisons could be far over capacity with more than 40,500 inmates in five years if current trends continue, says Dora Schriro, the the state’s new corrections director, according to the Arizona Republic. The facilities are built to hold 27,000; current population exceeds 31,000.
Schriro reported to a legislative working group evaluating ways to alter sentencing policies to cope with rising prison overcrowding and costs. “I think the question before us, and it’s a really important one, is how do we develop a criminal justice system that’s both tough and smart,” she said.
Republican Rep. Bill Konopnicki, chair of the Alternatives to Sentencing Work Group, said state prisons “growing at an alarming rate and we need to figure out what the root causes are.” He said experts think there may be several thousand non-violent inmates who could be safely handled in forms of detention. That could include a combination of jail and probation and technological means like electronic monitoring.