Criminal justice reform could increase state savings

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A new report shows that meaningful criminal justice reform in Arizona could save the state up to 1.5 billion dollars over the next 10 years. We learned more from Jim Rounds, of Rounds Consulting Group, which conducted the study.

The Rounds Consulting Group started this report when the Second Chances Act was originally proposed last year. The ballot initiative proposed non-violent offenders would receive release credits to lower their prison sentences. The Second Chances Act failed to meet the Secretary of State’s signature review requirement and never made it to the November 2020 ballot.

The Rounds Consulting Group’s economic analysis made clear the legislation’s potential.

“The savings of the state is going to be huge. We calculated the total opportunity of the original proposal was going to 1.5 billion dollars in additional general fund revenue over the next decade. It ended up being a significant dollar amount. I didn’t realize how much we were spending on this stuff,” Rounds said.

Factors that contributed to this additional revenue

  • How much taxpayers are spending on criminal justice issues
  • Offenders with lowered sentences could join workforce and pay taxes, instead of taxes paying for their prison time

Currently, under Arizona law, inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentence. According to Rounds, this is one of the highest percentages in the country. The Second Chances Act had the potential to lower prison sentences up to 50%. “When you calculate costs, it’s not just somebody going to prison. It’s the duration that they’re in prison. If we could get something like this passed, I’d like to even see some of the money used for enhanced workforce training programs for after the fact—which would also help taxpayers too,” Rounds said.

Jim Rounds, President, Rounds Consulting Group

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