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American Friends Service Committee - Drug Sentencing in Arizona A Prescription for Failure, 2017

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Drug Sentencing in Arizona:
A Prescription for Failure
Written by:
Rebecca Fealk, MPA
Caroline Isaacs, MSW
American Friends Service Committee – Arizona
August 2017

Written by:
Rebecca Fealk, MPA
Caroline Isaacs, MSW
American Friends Service Committee – Arizona
August 2017
Design by Melina Lew
Acknowledgments
This report was made possible by a generous grant from the Public Welfare Foundation.
We offer our deepest thanks to Ana Yáñez-Correa for her support of our work.
Research for this report was completed by Jonathan Arndt, Elizabeth Champney, Sonya
Hernandez, Vikram Jaswal, Karen Nielsen, Cindy Nguyen, Desiree Perez, and Ektaa Prasher.
Analysis of data was completed with the help of Dave Wells and Richard Wood.
AFSC–Arizona would like to thank the following people for their contributions to and
review of this report: Grace Gámez, Howard Wine, Grace Guisewite, Jared Keenan, Rich
Robertson, Joel Feinman, and Ben Olsen.

Drug Sentencing in Arizona:
A Prescription for Failure

Executive Summary
Like much of the nation, Arizona is in the midst of an opioid epidemic—the latest episode in what is now a pattern of
social crises related to drug addiction. Unlike the crack epidemic of the 1980’s and the methamphetamine crisis of the last
decade, the dialogue around substance abuse is changing from a punitive approach to a more nuanced understanding of
the nature of addiction.
Arizona is at a critical juncture and must closely examine its current approach to drug addiction and assess its
effectiveness, costs, and outcomes. Unfortunately, the state does not have a system to collect and aggregate data
related to actual sentencing laws—for drug offenses or any other category of crime. As a result, there has been no
way to determine how our existing criminal statutes are functioning.
To fill this gap, the American Friends Service Committee Arizona office, in collaboration with the Public Welfare
Foundation, conducted a ground-breaking study of actual drug sentencing in Arizona. For the first time, court-level
data was gathered on drug arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing practices in Arizona.
The findings are shocking:
•	 Currently, any amount of drugs, even residue, can result in
a charge of “possession.” Conviction for “sales” of drugs,
regardless of the amount, is an automatic Class 2 felony. That’s
the same as manslaughter, aggravated assault, armed robbery
and kidnapping.
•	 Drug crimes comprise the largest category of offense (21.8%) for
which people are incarcerated in the Arizona state prison system.
For women, the percentage is even higher (32%).
•	 Statewide, drug arrests comprised 11.73% of all arrests in 2015.
•	 Drug cases represent the overwhelming majority of charges
filed in Maricopa County, with 45.32% of the charges filed for
drug possession.

2

•	 There are significant racial disparities in drug sentencing and
incarceration in Arizona. Black people are sentenced to 25%
longer sentences for drug crimes.
•	 Arizona is spending a staggering $588,655 per day to incarcerate
people whose most serious charge is a drug offense.
•	 Under 3% of the state prisoners who have been identified as
having “significant substance abuse histories” are receiving drug
treatment at any given time.
•	 Incarceration does not result in people overcoming their addictions,
and Arizona’s 49.3% recidivism rate shows that the threat of a
harsher sentence for a subsequent conviction does nothing to
make people clean and sober.

The data points to one conclusion: Incarceration as a response to drug addiction is a failed strategy. It is based on faulty logic and
assumptions, namely, that addiction is a personal or moral defect and drug use is a conscious choice to break the law.
The best practice model for addressing drug addiction is to treat it as a chronic disease rather than as willful criminal behavior.
If effective treatment programs were available on demand for every person in the state who needs them, there is no doubt that our prison and
jail populations would shrink considerably. Probation officers, attorneys, emergency room nurses and doctors, public health advocates, and
people who have battled addiction have expressed a need for treatment based approaches; however, the main impediment is the lack of funding
for such services.
The way to correct this problem is to use a justice reinvestment approach to sentencing reform and policy change. Cost savings from
reductions in the prison population should be directed toward community-based programs that provide treatment, prevent crime, divert offenses,
and increase community security.
Arizona is at the tipping point to make real change in drug sentencing. Policy can move toward a public health, evidence-based approach to
addressing drug addiction while saving lives, families, and money.

Practical Policy Recommendations:
1.	 Require Standardized Data Collection and Analysis: Develop
a standardized data gathering process across counties and courts
to collect information on arrests, charging, plea bargaining, use of
sentence enhancements, sentencing outcomes, and other related
metrics to enhance our collective understanding of the current functioning of our system. This data must be correlated by race, ethnicity,
and gender in order to address the serious problem of disparities.
2.	 Defelonize Drug Possession: Incarceration cannot cure addiction.
Costly prison beds should be reserved for those who truly pose
a threat to public safety, not for people who have a disease. By
not imprisoning those with addiction, monetary resources can be
used to stop the problem before it spirals into criminal behavior,
the erosion of a family, or the loss of life.
3.	 Expand Non-Criminal Justice Interventions: Drug treatment,
trauma counseling, and medical care should be the first line of
defense against the disease of addiction, not criminal prosecution.
Aside from being more effective, one report found that for every
dollar spent on substance use disorder treatment saves $4 in health
care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs.

4.	 Restructure Drug Sentences: An independent, bipartisan
review of all of Arizona’s current drug sentencing statutes and
charging practices is a necessary first step. Such a review should
rely on the best practices in addiction medicine and evidencebased approaches in the field to determine a fair, consistent, and
effective sentencing scheme for addiction-related offenses.
5.	 Utilize Public Health and Harm Reduction Approaches:
Our priority as a state should be to prevent overdose deaths
and transmission of communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and
Hepatitis C. Threat of arrest keeps addicts from seeking medical
treatment or even calling 911 when someone is overdosing. Best
practices like 911 Good Samaritan Laws, Clean Needle Exchange,
and Opioid Urgent Care prevent needless deaths and promote
health for all.

3

4

Contents
Introduction	6
Drug Criminalization in Arizona	

8

Conclusions	16
Adopting a Public Health Approach	

18

Practical Policy Recommendations	

19

Appendix 1: Methodology	

21

Appendix 2: Charts and Graphs	

26

References	28

5

Introduction
In June of 2017, Governor Ducey declared a state of emergency in
response to Arizona’s unrelenting opioid epidemic. The announcement came in the wake of an Arizona Department of Health Services
report that demonstrated a steep increase in opioid overdose deaths
during the Ducey administration – a rise of 74% since 2013.1
In his 2017 State of the State, Governor Ducey outlined policies to
support people re-entering the community post prison and engage
non-profits and health care workers in addressing addiction. He
also passed two executive orders specifically relating to drug abuse,
one establishing a pilot program for the use of medication to treat
addiction (Vivitrol) for people exiting prison, and another increasing
reporting of opioid overdoses.
While these steps are important and necessary, it is notable that
they are reactive rather than preventive measures. Why not gather
information on the number of people seeking treatment rather than
waiting until they overdose? Why wait until someone has been
convicted of a felony, incarcerated, and released before we offer
support and treatment?
For decades in Arizona, the de-facto response to drug use and
addiction has been criminalization. Characterizing drug addiction as

a moral failure and deliberate choice to break the law, Arizona sends
people to prison for years for small amounts of drugs. These laws
were based on the now-debunked theory of deterrence—the belief
that harsh penalties frighten people enough that they will choose not
to use drugs. Of course, this is inconsistent with the modern science
of addiction, which demonstrates that drug addiction is a chronic
illness similar to that of diabetes, cancer, or epilepsy.
The criminalization response prevalent during the “War on Drugs”
was one contributing factor to the nation’s soaring incarceration
rates. Arizona currently has the 5th highest incarceration rate in the
U.S. and the highest of western states.2
Alcohol and drugs are implicated in an estimated 80% of offenses
leading to incarceration in the U.S., including domestic violence,
driving while intoxicated, property offenses, and public-order offenses.3
In other words, the vast majority of crime is linked in some way
to addiction.
Nationally, almost three-quarters of state prisoners with mental health
problems reported co-occurring substance dependence.4 Inmates
with mental illness often have additional social and criminogenic
needs. Prisoners suffering from mental illness are more likely to have

Arizona State Budget Spending Changes: 2007 to 2017
40%
30%
20%
K–12
Education
2.8%

10%
0%
-10%
-20%

School
Facilities
Board
-44.9%

Public
Safety
-27.1%

Universities
-26.1%

Economic
Security
-23.7%

AHCCCS
10.1%

Judiciary
-8.3%

-30%
-40%
-50%
Source: Arizona State Legislature, Joint Legislative Budget Committee, “Then and Now,” FY 2007-2017 General Fund Spending

6

Corrections
28.4%

experienced homelessness, prior incarceration, and substance abuse
than those without mental illness, and, cyclically, these factors common
among offenders also predispose them to mental illness.5
The Arizona Department of Corrections reports that “77% of inmates
assessed at intake have significant substance abuse histories,”
yet there were only 866 prisoners enrolled in Addiction Treatment
programming in September of 2016.6 In other words, just under 3%
of the prisoners who need drug treatment are actually receiving it at
any given time.
Clearly, incarceration does not cure addiction, and Arizona’s 49.3%
recidivism rate shows that the threat of a harsher sentence for a
subsequent conviction does nothing to make people clean and sober.
This failure comes at a steep cost. Arizona’s corrections budget has
been over $1 billion since 2012 and is the third top spending item
in the state. Meanwhile, funds for prevention and services, such as
economic security programs and education have dropped or failed to
keep up with costs for inflation.
In spite of the seriousness of these issues, the skyrocketing costs
of incarceration, and legitimate concerns about public safety, it is
shocking to learn that Arizona currently has no aggregate data
on how the state’s criminal sentencing laws are applied. Each county
maintains its own records, collects different sets of data, and some
jurisdictions have electronic systems whiles others are still using
paper files. Thus, our lawmakers and the taxpayers footing the bill
have no idea how many people were sentenced under a given law,
for how long, or what the outcomes were. The most frequently cited
data on sentencing in Arizona comes from the Arizona Prosecuting
Attorneys' Advisory Council (APAAC) multi-year report, Prisoners in
Arizona. However, this report relies on internal Arizona Department
of Corrections classification data and other administrative information,
which is inconsistently gathered and can be misleading. The report
does not address the arrest data, charges brought, plea bargain
information, mitigating factors, racial or gender demographics, or
other details critical to understanding how sentencing laws work.

In an effort to fill this gap, the American Friends Service Committee
Arizona office, in collaboration with the Public Welfare Foundation,
conducted a ground-breaking study of actual drug sentencing in
Arizona. For the first time, court-level data was gathered on drug
arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing practices in Arizona.
Information for this research was obtained through public records
requests for all court cases of people who were sentenced to prison
for a drug crime in Maricopa, Pima and Yavapai counties. Researchers
traveled to the court offices in these three counties to collect data
directly from their systems and records. Due to the high quantity
of cases in Maricopa, those researched cases were a randomized
sample of 24.2% of all drug cases in in 2015. In addition to this
quantitative data, researchers conducted interviews with individuals
who interact with the criminal sentencing system and issues of
addiction from a variety of perspectives: Treatment providers, court
personnel, formerly incarcerated people, medical professionals, and
one County Attorney. These interviews are reflected in the “Frontline
Perspectives” boxes throughout the report. For more information on
the methodology of this research, refer to Appendix 1.
This report exposes the failure of Arizona’s current drug sentencing
policies, which result in large numbers of people serving prison time
for drug offenses without receiving any meaningful treatment while
incarcerated, costing taxpayers millions and doing nothing to reduce
recidivism. In addition, there is evidence of disturbing racial disparities
in arrests, charging, sentencing and incarceration, as well as a
significant impact on women.
Arizona should adopt a justice reinvestment approach. This model,
which has been applied in numerous states, uses evidence-based
approaches to safely reduce prison populations. The funds saved by
reducing prison costs can then be re-invested in community-based
treatment, education and other programs and services that promote
lasting safety.

7

Drug Criminalization in Arizona
Drug Arrests
The 2015 Arizona Crime report shows that drug-related arrests made
up 11.73% of all arrests.7 In contradiction to the argument that harsh
sentencing is a deterrent, the rate of drug use in Arizona increased
from 9.52%8 in 2010 to 11.25%9 in 2014. Both rates were higher than
the national average rates of illicit drug use.10 11
In contrast to media portrayals of law enforcement diligently
prosecuting drug cartels with major investigations, the data and
anecdotal evidence shows that police are much more likely to arrest
those who are the easiest to find. Studies have consistently shown
that police target specific, low income, non-white neighborhoods,
for drug arrests. Concentrating efforts in a specific neighborhood
allows for simpler arrests, using fewer resources and maintaining an
atmosphere of safety for those living in more affluent areas.12

Ten people’s arrests, due to bicycle
infractions, resulted in 1.322 grams of
drugs being found and sentenced them
to a combined total of 26 years in prison.
That amount of drugs is less than the weight of a
single penny.
Our research found that 10 arrests that led to drug convictions
arose from basic bicycle violations, such as missing a bike light
or failure to stop completely at a stop sign. The subsequent police
searches uncovered approximately 1.322 grams of drugs.i
Clearly these infractions posed no danger to anyone but the arrestee.
This points to a practice of using these minor violations as a pretext
to target individuals who are likely low-income and easy to visually
identify as a possible addict. The total amount of time sentenced for
the drug arrests resulting from these bicycle stops was 26 years in
prison, which translates over $616,185 of tax payers’ dollars for
incarceration alone.13
Other causes for police intervention included people “looking suspicious” in public areas, homeless individuals searching for food in
i

dumpsters, or people admitting to drug use while being administered
medical treatment. In one case, a man was threatening suicide, and
his terrified family naturally called the police to help. When the police
arrived, the man was searched and drugs were found on him. He
ended up going to prison for 2.5 years.14
Undercover police operations were also found to be targeting drug
users selling small amounts to support their own habits. Forty-three
cases in the research involved undercover police, with 69.77% being
for small-level sales of drugs (less than the legislative threshold).
One case involved a man who was asked by undercover police to
purchase on three different occasions, selling a total of 3 grams of
drugs. He told the officer he was trying to make money to support
his four children. He was senteded to prison for 33 months.15
Another case involved a woman who stated in her court hearing that
she, “sold drugs to feed her habit.” On two occasions, she sold a
total of 3.1 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer.
When she was arrested, she was also found with marijuana. For
these two sales and the possession of marijuana, she was sentenced
to 10 years in prison, and 2.5 years of a probation tail upon her release
from prison. She will not be out of state control until 2028.16
Defense attorneys report that it is common for police to target
people who are homeless or those known to congregate in local
parks, knowing that they are likely to sell to the officers if they ask.
These patterns indicate that law enforcement is choosing to go after
the poorest and lowest-level sellers, rather than large-scale drug
dealers, simply because they are easy to find, entrap, and arrest. This
strategy does nothing to impact drug trafficking or the availability of
drugs on the street.

Drug Prosecutions
Maricopa County is Arizona’s largest county, and represents the majority
(62.9%) of people sentenced to prison.17 Drug cases represent the
overwhelming majority of charges filed in Maricopa County. Of the ten
most charged offenses in the county in 2015, eight were alcohol or
drug-related. Furthermore, these charges were for possession, use, or
paraphernalia, not for sales or trafficking offenses.

Of the 13 drug charges from these interactions, 5 had specific amounts listed, 4 were not stated, 1 was Not Specified (1inch x 1inch baggie) and 3 were labeled “Usable amount of drugs.

8

Unfortunately, neither Pima nor Yavapai Counties report data on
their charging patterns, so it is unknown whether these patterns are
consistent across the state.

Mandatory Sentencing
Mandatory sentencing laws require binding prison terms of a
particular length for people convicted of certain crimes. Many of
these sentences were decided by the Legislature using a “onesize-fits-all” approach that requires the same set penalty for every
case. Mandatory sentencing can take several forms. Mandatory
minimums refer to laws that require a minimum prison sentence
length for a given crime that the judge cannot depart from. There are
mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in Arizona which can
fluctuate based on the type of drug, felony class of the crime, and
mitigating factors.20 Mandatory sentence enhancements are an
assortment of laws that allow prosecutors to seek harsher penalties
if certain other conditions apply to a given case, essentially a form of
“aggravating factors.” Mandatory sentencing provisions eliminate
the option for probation or alternatives to incarceration, even for
non-violent offenders. Many sentence enhancements greatly increase
the length of the mandatory minimum prison terms.
Two of the most commonly applied sentence enhancements are for
prior convictions, or “repeat offenders,” and for multiple offenses.
Repetitive Offenders: Those charged with a felony offense who
have previously been convicted of one “historical prior” felony, if
convicted, are ineligible for probation and face enhanced prison
terms. Those previously convicted of two or more “historical priors”
are subject to even longer mandatory sentences. Even convictions
from other states can be charged as priors.21 As defined by statute, a
“historical prior” includes:
1.	 Any felony conviction for an offense committed within the last
five years of the current offense;

2.	 A Class 2 or 3 felony conviction for an offense committed within
10 years of the current offense; or
3.	 Any conviction for a “dangerous” felony DUI, regardless of when
the offense occurred
Multiple Offenses: Those charged with three or more felony drug
offenses arising out of separate incidents but consolidated in the
same criminal proceeding are ineligible for probation and are subject
to longer sentences.
Example: A person charged with selling marijuana to an undercover
officer on three different days faces mandatory prison with a presumptive
term of five years for the third offense—regardless of the amount of
drugs found.
It is the role of the County Attorney (prosecutor) to decide which
charges to file, whether to seek mandatory sentence enhancements,
whether to offer a plea, and what concessions to offer in a bargain.
A prosecutor must prove the prior for it to be used as a sentencing
enhancement. While it is the burden of the state to show its existence, a prior conviction is the only maximum penalty-increasing
sentencing enhancement that does not have to be proven to a jury
beyond a reasonable doubt.23 However, if the State fails to prove
the prior, the court can still consider it as an aggravating circumstance, thus reaching the same end in extending a person’s prison
sentence.24
It should be no surprise that the most common enhancement applied
to drug sentencing is the repetitive offender enhancement. For all of
the researched charges in this study where an enhancement was put
in place by the prosecutor, 95.77% of the enhancements were
for priors.
The chronic nature of the disease of drug addiction means that
relapse is not only possible but likely. Symptom recurrence rates

Top 10 Most Charged Criminal Offenses in Maricopa County, 201518
Charge Category

Total

Percent of all Charges19 (43,538)

Drug Paraphernalia—Possession/Use

7,181

16.49%

Dangerous Drug—Possession/Use

5,022

11.53%

Marijuana—Possession/Use

4,745

10.90%

False Statement to Obtain Benefits

4,407

10.12%

Aggravated DUI—License Suspended/Revoked for DUI

3,429

7.88%

Marijuana Violation

3,312

7.61%

Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon/Dangerous Instrument

3,304

7.59%

Drug Paraphernalia Violation

3,014

6.92%

Narcotic Drug—Possession/Use

2,786

6.40%

Dangerous Drug Violation

2,534

5.82%

9

are similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical
illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Unfortunately,
when relapse occurs the criminal justice system tends to view it as a
refusal on the part of the individual to amend his or her behavior and
label it a “repeat offense.”

sentence than a person who accepted a plea. For people convicted
of drug crimes, there was a 96.01% increase in time sentenced
to prison for people who went to trial. Disparities remain even
when factors are kept consistent between people, charges, and their
criminal history.

But the science of addiction demonstrates that this is the wrong
approach. Successful treatment for addiction typically requires
continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the
approach taken for other chronic diseases. For example, when a
patient is receiving active treatment for hypertension and symptoms
decrease, treatment is deemed successful, even though symptoms
may recur when treatment is discontinued. For the addicted individual,
lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify
that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate
treatment is needed.25

Our researched cases demonstrated that people charged with
transportation of marijuana who had no prior felony convictions had
their sentence double on average when they went to trial versus
taking a plea. For methamphetamine possession, a trial case increased
the length of time sentenced to prison by 141%.

Yet the criminal justice approach to relapse is to impose harsher
punishments, often leading to increased prison time.
An alternate interpretation is that “repeat offenses” are also an
indication of the failure of the criminal justice system to do its job.
At what point will the Department of Corrections and other criminal
justice actors be held accountable for the dismal failure that is
represented by Arizona’s 50% recidivism rate? While individuals are
responsible for changing their behavior, is there not also a collective
responsibility of government, agencies, and society as a whole for
how we respond to social problems like addiction?
Arizona’s mandatory sentencing provisions diminish the ability of
judges to tailor sentences to the individual or their circumstances.
When an enhancement is invoked by the prosecutor and can be
proven by the facts, the judge must impose the enhancement.

Plea Bargains
The prosecutor can offer the defendant a “plea bargain,” in which
the person agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense and/or shorter
sentence, instead of taking the case to trial and being heard by a
jury. The trial process can be tedious and expensive, and a single
case can take years to complete. Plea bargaining allows high volumes
of cases to be resolved quickly.
Information from the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts
states that only 2.49% of all felony cases went to trial in 2015.27 This
is echoed in our research: only 2.85% of the drug cases in this study
involved trials.
If a person decides to invoke their right to a trial and is found guilty,
our research showed that they are likely to be given a much longer

10

Unfortunately, these factors provide an incentive for prosecutors to
use their discretion to bring as many charges against a defendant
as possible to convince them to take the plea. For example, a person
being charged with drug sales may also face charges for drug
possession, drug trafficking (because they were driving at the time
of arrest), and drug paraphernalia. The “plea deal” may offer to drop
the additional charges if the individual pleads guilty to just the sales
charge, but all charges will be alleged if the case goes to trial. The
prosecutor can make a credible threat that if the defendant goes to
court and loses, they are facing a serious sentence.
One criminal charge frequently applied in this way is A.R.S §13-3415
“Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.” Paraphernalia charges can
include items like a lighter or matches, individual syringes, pipes,
rolling papers, the plastic bag holding the drugs, etc. One researched
case saw three separate charges for a single drug possession case
because the person had a straw, some foil, and a lighter.28 Drug paraphernalia is a Class 6 felony, carries a mandatory minimum sentence
of six months prison time for someone with a prior felony. Of the
959 charges of drug paraphernalia from this study, only 11.05%
were found guilty.
The research found that on average, people who took pleas
ended up serving time for only one out of every three crimes
for which they were charged. This indicates a negotiation strategy
used by prosecutors to compel a plea agreement. The Arizona
Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council (APAAC) describes it this way:
A prosecutor may, in the course of a plea negotiation, confront
a defendant with the possibility of a more severe penalty if he
refuses to deal. In Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 98 S.Ct.
663 (1978), the court held that the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment was not violated when a state prosecutor
carried out a threat made during plea negotiations to re-indict
the accused on more serious charges if he did not plead guilty to
the original charge.29

Geographic Disparities

Top 10 Commitment Offenses in Arizona Prisons, 201633
Offense Category

Precent of AZ Prison Population

Interestingly, our research found a strong correlation between
geography and number of charges in Arizona. Yavapai County has
a higher average number of charges per case, with 6.10 per person
compared to 2.54 and 3.04 in Maricopa and Pima, respectively.
Yavapai also sends people to prison for longer sentences, with 4.22
years being the average compared to 2.46 years from Maricopa and
2.57 years from Pima.

1. Drug Offense

21.8%

2. Assault

12.8%

3. Robbery

8.4%

4. Burglary/Criminal Trespass

7.6%

5. Murder

7.1%

6. Sex Offense

6.2%

7. Weapons Offense

4.4%

Ostensibly, this is linked to the fact that Yavapai, a much smaller
county than Maricopa, has fewer cases to contend with and more
time to devote to the process. By contrast, the larger counties with
higher caseloads are more likely to simply apply the minimum number
of charges to convince the defendant to take a plea and move the
case on through the system.

8. Auto Theft

4.2%

9. DUI

4.1%

10. Child Molestation

4.0%

It is a phenomenon that is not unique to Arizona. A 2016 analysis
published in the New York Times revealed that, “Just a decade ago,
people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally
likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about
50% more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.”30
The study confirmed that this divide is not related to different rates of
crime, which decreased in all areas. Instead, it is clearly the result of
policies and procedures related to arrests, prosecution, and charging
for crimes, as well as aggressive monitoring of individuals on probation
and high rates of re-incarceration for probation violations.31
This disparity highlights a fundamental failure of mandatory sentencing.
While sentences may be pre-determined, the tremendous discretion
wielded by prosecutors allows for charges to be applied differently in
different counties, undermining the stated goal of removing bias in
the system. Arizonans rightly expect people to be treated the same
in the criminal justice system regardless of where they live. The fact
that rural Arizonans may be treated more harshly than their urban
counterparts is cause for concern.
AFSC Drug Research 2015 Data by County
Number
of people
charged

Number of Avg. Charges
charges
per person

Avg. Years
prison
sentence

Maricopa

669

1699

2.54

2.46

Pima

447

1358

3.04

2.57

Yavapai

145

885

6.10

4.22

Drug Incarceration
Arizona has the 5th highest incarceration rate in the United States.32
Statistics from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) show
21.8% of those in prison in 2016 were serving time for a drug related
crime as their most serious charge. That is more than any other crime.

ADC offers a further breakdown of the population incarcerated for
drug offenses:
People Incarcerated for Drug Offenses in Arizona, 201634
Number of
Prisoners

Percent of
drug offenses

Marijuana

205

2.2%

Methamphetamine

2,049

21.9%

Other

969

10.3%

Marijuana

1,918

20.5%

Methamphetamine

2,780

29.7%

Other

1,448

15.4%

Marijuana

2,123

22.7%

Methamphetamine

4,829

51.5%

Other

2,417

25.8%

Offense
Possession

Trafficking

Total ADC Drug Offenses

TOTAL

9,369

With the estimated 2015 per diem of $64.93 a day to house a person
in prison, Arizona is spending $588,655 per day to house people
whose worst crime is a drug offense.

Women and Drug Incarceration
Arizona has the fourth highest female incarceration rate in the
country, with 104 women behind bars per 100,000 population.35 In
2015, there were 4,028 women in Arizona prisons, about 9.4% of the
total prison population.36 This mirrors a national trend. Between 1980
and 2014, the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. increased
by more than 700%, rising from a total of 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in
2014.37 This rate of growth outpaced the increase in incarceration of
men by 50%.38

11

A full 32% of women incarcerated in Arizona were sentenced
for drug crimes—the largest offense category by far.
Women are particularly vulnerable to opioid use and addiction.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, women
are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed pain relievers, be
prescribed higher doses, and use pain relievers for longer periods than
men. Women may become dependent on prescription pain relievers
more quickly than men. And prescription pain reliever overdose deaths
for women increased more than 400% between 1999 and 2010, while
heroin overdoses for women tripled between 2010 and 2013.39
The data on opioid use and overdose deaths being collected by the
Arizona Department of Health Services under Governor Ducey’s
Executive Order sadly reflects these trends. Of the 851 possible
opioid overdoses reported between June 15 and July 13 of 2017,
40% were women.40

Sentences for Drug Possession
Arizona has a strangely contradictory approach to drug crimes. In
1996, Arizona voters passed the “Drug Medicalization, Prevention
and Control Act,” also known as Proposition 200, which mandated
that first and second-time drug possession offenses be diverted from
prison into probation and treatment. The Arizona Supreme Court
reported that the law saved the state more than $2.5 million in its first
fiscal year. Arizona Appellate Court Judge, Rudy Gerber, lauded the
program, saying, “As it turns out, [the law] is doing more to reduce
crime than any other state program, and saving taxpayer dollars at
the same time.”43
The law has been so successful that many of the proposed drug
reforms introduced in other states in recent years are modeled after
it. It is often cited by Arizona prosecutors to support their claim that
“you have to work really hard to go to prison in Arizona.”

There are critical factors unique to women that may explain these
disturbing trends. First, women have higher rates of mental disorders.
Research at Oxford found women are approximately 75% more likely
than men to report a recent episode of depression and 60% more
likely to report an anxiety disorder. Secondly, women are found to
experience trauma, discrimination, and stressful life experiences
at higher rates than men. Roughly half of all women report some
experience of trauma, which correlates with a higher likelihood of
drug abuse.41

However, the law is far from comprehensive. In 2007, voters approved
Proposition 301, “Probation for Methamphetamine Offenses Act,” to
exclude those charged with possession of methamphetamine from
eligibility for Proposition 200 diversion.44 Individuals found in possession of methamphetamines can and do go to prison for a first or
second drug offense. This is reflected clearly in the data from ADC
above. Of all possession offenses for which people are incarcerated in
Arizona, those imprisoned for possession of methamphetamine are
the largest category by far (21.9%).

Unfortunately, gender differences also result in a treatment gap for
women. Women typically wait longer to acquire treatment because of
their role as caregivers, particularly as mothers. Sometimes the barriers
are logistical, such as having no one to watch the children during a
multi-day stay in detox. Other times custody is the issue—women do
not seek treatment out of fear of losing custody of their children.42
Treatment must be tailored to address these unique issues and made
accessible for women.

Even for those fortunate enough to be diverted through Proposition
200, a third conviction of drug possession results in extremely
harsh sentencing. Simple drug possession convictions can range
anywhere from a Class 6 felony, the lowest level, to a Class 4, with a
minimum prison sentence of six years if convicted at trial.

Frontline Perspective: Proposition 200
“If it is a first or second drug charge, you are placed
on probation. But there are a lot of people who will
relapse during their period of probation—if you read
the science on addiction that’s to be expected. I have
had two maybe three times where a client relapsed
and the prosecutor petitions to revoke their probation,
but I was able to convince a prosecutor to agree to
keep them on the program… two to three times out of
hundreds of cases.”
– Jared Keenan, Yavapai County Public Defender

12

Any amount of drugs on a person can trigger a charge for

possession. In place of a specific measurement, the term “usable”
was frequently used in police reports collected for this study. This
can include drug residue inside a pipe, baggie, or other paraphernalia.
A 1970 Arizona Supreme Court case upheld “usable” for convicting
people for as little as 0.00036 grams of a drug.45 Individuals can even
be charged with “internal possession,” where they admit to using
within the last 72 hours and have a positive urinary analysis test.
In 33.57% of all possession charges in this study, “usable”
possession charges in this study, “usable” was the only
description of the quantity of drugs found. Another 51.42% of
the cases studied had possession charges for under 2.5 grams—less
than the weight of a U.S. penny.

Sentences for Drug Sales
While there are guidelines that explain the amount of drugs that can
trigger a charge of “drug sales” in Arizona, this threshold only applies
if the defendant has no prior criminal convictions. If the person does
have prior convictions, they can be charged with sales of a drug for
selling or attempting to sell any amount of drugs.

treated the same as a professional drug trafficker. A conviction for
drug sales increases the mandatory minimum sentence from simple
possession by more than two fold, to four years.
The research found that this was even more drastic for people with
even one previous conviction. On average, prison time for marijuana
possession was 1.25 years, but for sales it jumped to 3.75 years.
For narcotics, possession was 2.67 years, and sales was 5.31 years,
and for methampethemines possession was 2.65 years while sales
resulted in 5.65 years behind bars. See Appendix 2 for details.

Racial Disparities
The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) releases monthly reports
entitled Corrections at a Glance, that includes “Ethnic Distribution.”
Comparing this to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015, Latino and
Black people are overrepresented in Arizona state prisons.

Our research found over one-quarter of cases where a sales charge
was brought for a sale of less than the legislative threshold.

Yet when it comes to sentencing, very little research has been
conducted on racial disparities. The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’
Advisory Council (APAAC) Prisoners in Arizona reports offer no data
correlating with race or ethnicity, not even mentioning the word
“race.”46 Not tracking racial information prevents identification of
biases or discrimination within the system.

Narcotic or methamphetamine drug sales are Class 2 felonies
regardless of the amount of drug or circumstances. This is just under
the felony level of first degree murder. Marijuana sales fall between
Class 2 and Class 4, depending on the amount sold. Because of this,
non-violent addict-sellers can get prison terms longer than individuals
convicted of violent offenses.

In Arizona, Black people make up only 4.8%47 of the total general
population, but 11.5% of those arrested48, and 13.8% of the ADC
population49 This data cannot be analyzed the same way for whites
and Latinos, as the Crime in Arizona report from which arrest data is
gleaned does not distinguish between white-Hispanics and nonwhite-Hispanics.

A person with a drug addiction may sell drugs in order to support
their habit and prevent withdrawal symptoms. If they are caught selling, even if it is a small amount and addiction is apparent, they are

This is an ongoing problem for understanding the influence of the
criminal justice system on the Latino community.50 For the purposes
of this report, the classification of Latino for a person is used as a

Population by Race/Ethnicity
60%

55.8%

50%

43.85%

39.9%

40%

42.11%

39.2%

Black
Latino
Native American
White

30.7%

30%
20%
10%
0%

13.8%
4.8%

5.3%
AZ General

5.2%
ADC December 2015

10.23%
2.70%
Research cases

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Arizona Department of Corrections

13

stand-alone racial label, as it is within the ADC. From this we can
compare the number of Latinos population identified in Census data,
30.7%, with those in prison, 39.9%.
The research showed serious disparities in sentence lengths for the
same charges between racial groups, as well as in the sentencing
results compared to number of charges filed.

Racial Disparities in Charging Drug Possession
Possession is the lowest of drug charges, and the one most linked
to addiction. Understanding existing racial biases in this is critical,
especially when the theory behind mandatory minimum sentencing
is supposed to reduce a prejudice sentence.
The data collected is consistent with other national study findings,
that Blacks are sentenced to prison at a higher rate for possession
of drugs. This is true across the board, for marijuana, methamphetamines, and narcotics. The chart below explains this in detail.
Marijuana Possession

Racial Disparities in Sentence Lengths
Sentencing codes in Arizona are extremely complex and intricate,
and actual sentences can be influenced by a myriad of different
factors, one of the most critical being the intentions of the prosecutor.
This makes it challenging to provide a broad analysis of sentencing
between races. In the following graphs, variables were isolated to
show the closest comparison. These are results for people who had
no other peripheral crimes (i.e. DUI, Theft, Forgery, etc.) and were
charged only with drug crimes.
Average Prison Sentence (months)
Methamphetamine Possession, with Prior Convictions
Black

33.29

Latino – U.S. Citizen

30.67

Latino Non-U.S. Citizen

24

Native American

25.89

White

32.55

Number of
Possession
Charges

Number of
Guilty/Plea to
Other

Percent
Guilty/Plea
to Other

Black

28

13

46.33%

Latino

62

19

30.65%

Average Prison Sentence (months)
Marijuana Sales, No Prior Convictions

Native American

11

4

36.36%

Black

43

White

93

24

25.81%

Latino – U.S. Citizen

29.66

Latino Non-U.S. Citizen

21.27

Number of
Possession
Charges

Number of
Guilty/Plea to
Other

Percent
Guilty/Plea
to Other

Native American

18ii

White

27.75

Black

57

49

85.96%

Latino

182

145

79.67%

Native American

31

20

64.51%

White

372

306

82.26%

Number of
Possession
Charges

Number of
Guilty/Plea to
Other

Percent
Guilty/Plea
to Other

Black

41

26

63.41%

Latino

104

61

58.65%

Native American

7

4

57.14%

White

137

69

50.36%

Dangerous Drug Possession

Narcotics Possession

ii

From the research, we see that people of color go to prison at a
higher rate for possession of drugs, with Black people having the
highest rate in every area. This is especially concerning, as the Black
population is actually underrepresented in this study as compared to
the 2015 ADC population.

Clearly, more data and further analysis is critical in order to investigate
the cause of these disparities and to determine what possible policy
or procedural changes are needed to ensure that all Arizonans are
treated equally under the law.

Crack vs. Powder:
One sentencing difference that is frequently held up as both
demonstrating outright bias in its intention as well as its impacts is
the variance between penalties for Crack vs. Powder Cocaine.
In the 1990’s when the crack epidemic was at its height and toughon-crime sentencing was politically popular, the federal government
and many states, including Arizona, introduced so-called “zero

This was the single charge for a Native American in this category. There is likely a greater disparity. Further research is needed.

14

tolerance laws” promoting harsh sentencing for drug crimes. Many of
these laws allowed for lower thresholds and/or longer sentences for
crack cocaine than for the powder form of the drug.
These policies were justified through sensational media coverage of
“crack fiends” and racially-charged images of inner city neighborhoods ravaged by drug crime and babies born addicted to the drug.
These disparities contributed to higher rates of incarceration among
Black communities, particularly at the federal level where it was
found that Black people served virtually as much time in prison for
non-violent drug offenses as whites did for violent offenses.51
As a result, in 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA),
which reduced the sentencing disparity between offenses for crack
and powder cocaine. And in 2011 the U.S. Sentencing Commission
made the law retroactive, allowing over 12,000 people—85% of
whom are Black—to have their sentences for crack cocaine offenses
reviewed by a federal judge and possibly reduced. In Arizona, we still
have a 12:1 disparity in crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing.
In other words, it takes 12 times as much powder cocaine as crack
cocaine to receive the same sentence. Nine grams of powder cocaine
or 750 milligrams of cocaine base trigger five-year prison terms for
sales offenses.

Even when isolating drug crimes, the pattern persisted, showing
that Black people are given fewer charges, but are sentenced to
more months in prison per drug charge. Overall, Black people
are sentenced to 25% longer for drug crimes in Arizona.
Drug Only Charges: Racial Disparities
Avg. Number
of charges

Avg. Months
sentenced
to prison

Months per
charge

Black

2.59

40.58

15.66

Latino

2.58

32.15

12.46

White

3.33

40.96

12.30

These racial disparities are very concerning. People of color in
Arizona do not commit more crime than their white neighbors, but
they are sent to prison at a higher rate and for longer amounts of
time. More data and study of these and other factors are needed
to determine whether there is inherent bias in the criminal justice
system and how to address it to ensure fairness and impartiality.

Racial Disparities in Number of Charges
Our research indicated that people of color, specifically Black
people, frequently had fewer charges but received longer prison
sentences. The chart below is for all crimes, including the peripheral
crimes that people are charged with in association with drug
crimes (i.e. robbery, forgery, DUI, etc.). Black people are likely to
serve more prison time for fewer charges.
All Charges Racial Disparitiesiii
Avg. Number
of charges

Avg. Months
sentenced
to prison

Months per
charge

Black

2.74

43.76

15.97

Latino

2.75

32.71

11.89

White

3.56

42.01

11.80

While this research did include all charges (including non-drug
crimes) in a case, one might assume that this variation was based
on the severity of the crime. Therefore, we also ran the results while
isolating the information to drug charges only.

iii

Native American numbers were excluded from this chart due to the small sample size in the research. Further study is needed.

15

Conclusions
This research provides only a snapshot of drug sentencing in Arizona, and further study is needed. It is critically important for state agencies
and sentencing courts at all levels to collect consistent data in order for government actors, agency personnel, and the public to have an accurate
picture of the effectiveness, cost, and outcomes of our criminal justice system. However, this research indicates critical problems related to
drug sentencing in Arizona.

Cost
The researched sample is a small representation of those sentenced
to prison for drug and drug-related crimes in Arizona. Nevertheless,
together, the 1,261 cases represent an astounding 3,947 years of
prison time and over $93.5 million in prison spending. This
price tag does not include the cost of police, county jail processing
and housing, court staff, county attorneys, or public defenders for
judicial proceedings.

These findings are borne out in Arizona as well:
Cost per person, per year
Prison

$24,22956 (Average $66.38/day)

Jail*

$32,98557 ($90.37/day)

Drug Court*

$3,30958

Drug Treatment

$3,08559

Standard Probation*

$1,919.9060 ($5.26/day)

Intensive Probation*

$7,442.3561 ($20.39/day)

*Data for Maricopa County only

The Arizona Department of Corrections’ budget is now over $1 billion
and makes up 11% of the state’s general fund. That’s an increase
of 40% in seven years.52 According to the most recent National
Association of State Budget Officers report, Arizona ranks fourth
highest among all 50 states in the percentage of total general fund
expenditures on corrections.53

Impacts

By comparison, spending on economic security in Arizona dropped
23.7% since 2007 and spending on K-12 education has gone through
hills and valleys, with only a net 2.8% increase, according to the Joint
Legislative Budget Committee. A report by the Grand Canyon Institute
revealed that the state is now spending 60% more on prisons than on
state colleges and universities.54

Arizona has the fourth highest female incarceration rate in the country,
with 104 women behind bars per 100,000 population.62 In 2015, there
were 4,028 women in Arizona prisons—about 9.4% of the total prison
population.63 A full 32% of female prisoners were sentenced for
drug crimes.

Decades of research and experience in the field shows that drug
treatment is a far more effective and less costly intervention than
incarceration. A 2013 study published in Crime & Delinquency found
that diverting substance-abusing state prisoners to communitybased treatment programs rather than prison could reduce crime
rates and save the criminal justice system billions of dollars relative
to current levels. The savings are driven by immediate reductions in
the cost of incarceration and by subsequent reductions in the number
of crimes committed by successfully-treated diverted offenders,
which leads to fewer re-arrests and re-incarcerations. The criminal
justice costs savings account for the extra cost of treating diverted
offenders in the community.55

16

The actual expenditure in corrections is only a fraction of what Arizona’s
high incarceration really costs.

Nationally, more than 60% of women in state prisons have a child
under the age of 18.64 There are close to 100,000 minor children with
imprisoned parents on any given day in Arizona. Tens of thousands
more currently have a parent on probation. Children of incarcerated
parents are among the most vulnerable populations. Incarceration
of one or both parents leads children to become wards of the state,
placed in the foster care system and dependent on other safety net
programs. Often impoverished, they are at high risk for neglect and
abuse, academic and behavioral problems, delinquency, and substance
abuse. If unattended, these problems can lead to intergenerational
patterns of incarceration.65
Criminal convictions come with a host of “collateral consequences”
that make it extremely difficult to become or remain self-sufficient.

Barriers to housing, employment, professional licensure, education,
public assistance, voting, and other critical programs and services
essentially set people up to fail, contributing to Arizona’s high recidivism rate. It is impossible to accurately calculate the lost wages, loss
of potential tax revenue, decreased buying power, impact on home
ownership and property values, and myriad other financial burdens
posed by having such a high percentage of Arizona’s population as a
permanent underclass.
These negative impacts are endured disproportionately by communities
of color. As discussed above, people of color are disproportionately66
incarcerated in Arizona,67 despite the fact that the majority of arrests
are of white people.68 Latinos now make up the single largest
ethnic/racial group in Arizona’s prisons at 40%.
And evidence gathered through this research indicates that people
of color receive harsher penalties for the same drug crimes as their
White counterparts:
•	 Black people are sentenced to prison at a higher rate for
possession of drugs than any other racial or ethnic group.
•	 Black people serve longer sentences for the same crimes
compared to whites.
•	 Latinos are the largest ethnic category of incarcerated individuals
in Arizona prisons, representing 40% of prisoners (compared to
about 35% of the state population).

Effectiveness
Incarceration as a response to drug addiction is a failed strategy.
The Pew Charitable Trust’s Public Safety Performance Project
recently released a study that revealed that high incarceration
rates for drug crimes do not reduce drug use or drug related
crime. Pew compared state drug offender imprisonment rates with
three important measures of state drug problems: self-reported
drug use rates (excluding marijuana), drug arrest rates, and drug
overdose death rates. The analysis found no statistically significant
relationship between drug imprisonment and those indicators. In
other words, higher rates of drug imprisonment did not translate
into lower rates of drug use, lower drug arrests, or lower
overdose deaths.69

The study looked at all 50 states, and the findings with regard to
Arizona were striking. Arizona has the 5th highest rate of drug
incarceration in the country, the 15th highest rate of overdose
deaths and the 3rd highest rate of adult drug use. The data
soundly disproves the theory that harsh sentences will deter drug use.
The belief that people will “get clean” while incarcerated is also
unfounded. Only 1.70% of people in Arizona’s prisons in December
2015 were receiving addiction services, despite 75% being assessed
as having significant substance abuse histories.71 Rehabilitative
programming of virtually any kind is extremely limited in the Arizona
Department of Corrections. Many people who are incarcerated are
barred from participation in such programs due to their security
classification, length of sentence, or even geographical location
(prisons in rural areas have difficulty providing access to treatment
services).
Even as the amount of money funneled into the corrections budget
has increased by more than 28% in the last decade, services for
rehabilitation have not been the priority. In December 2016, 1.79%
of those in state prisons are obtaining addiction treatment, raising
only slightly since the previous year.72 When drug crimes make up
the biggest chunk of prison commitments, and almost 50% of people
return to prison, it is obvious the system is not working.
There is also evidence that the experience of incarceration results in
worse outcomes for people with substance abuse issues. There are
factors in many prisons that have negative effects on mental health,
including: overcrowding, various forms of violence, enforced solitude
or conversely, lack of privacy, lack of meaningful activity, isolation from social networks, insecurity about future prospects (work,
relationships, etc.), and inadequate health services, especially mental
health services. The increased risk of suicide in prisons (often related
to depression) is, unfortunately, one common manifestation of the
cumulative effects of these factors.73
Simply put, criminalization of drug addiction is a failed strategy.
It is based on faulty logic and assumptions, namely, that addiction
is a personal or moral defect and drug use is a conscious choice to
break the law.

2014 Drug Imprisonment and Drug Use Indicators by State70
Drug Imprisonment

Arizona

Drug Use Indicators

Drug prisoner
Count

Drug incarceration rate

Drug incarceration rate ranked

Overdose death
rate (rank)

Drug Arrest Rate Adult Illicit Drug
(rank)
Use Rate (Rank)

9,483

140.9

6

18.0 (15)

440.8 (21)

3,933.7 (3)

17

Adopting a Public Health Approach
The clear majority of people involved in the criminal justice system
are struggling with addiction. The consensus from doctors and addiction counselors is that punishment is ineffective in addressing this
issue. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over
extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment
stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity and improve their
occupational, social, and psychological functioning.74
The best practice model for addressing drug addiction is to treat
it as a chronic disease rather than as willful criminal behavior. In a
groundbreaking report on addiction, the U.S. Surgeon General stated,
“It’s time to change how we view addiction. Not as a moral failing
but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and
compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”75
This fundamental difference in how the behavior is viewed leads to
strikingly different approaches, with significantly different outcomes.
The most critical piece of this public health approach is understanding
the nature of relapse.

Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual
evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach
taken for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and
asthma. For example, when a patient is receiving active treatment for
hypertension and symptoms decrease, treatment is deemed successful,
even though symptoms may recur when treatment is discontinued.
For the addicted individual, lapses to drug abuse do not indicate
failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or
adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.76
Yet the criminal justice model approach to relapse is to award harsher
punishments, often leading to increased prison time. This is not only
counter-productive, it is a needless waste of scarce budget dollars.
Arizona is at the tipping point to make real change in drug sentencing.
Policy can move toward a public health, evidence-based approach
to addressing drug addiction while saving lives, families, and money.
These changes will prevent the trauma of incarceration as well as the
collateral consequences of a felony conviction, such as employment
and housing discrimination.

The chronic nature of the disease of drug addiction means that
relapse is not only possible but likely. Unfortunately, when relapse
occurs many deem treatment a failure or view it as a refusal on the
part of the individual to amend his or her behavior.

Frontline Perspective
“I would like to see more individual treatment plans and more … options for those who don’t have health insurance
at all, let alone good insurance… let’s implement some new life skills, let’s talk about what’s paining you? How
was your family life growing up? What traumas have you gone through? If you don’t find that stuff out and work
through it, you’re basically returning a person back into the same environment, and expecting them to succeed
now that they don’t have drugs in their system.”
– Anonymous Interviewee, Person with Addiction History

18

Practical Policy Recommendations
During his State of the State address in January 2017, Arizona
Governor Doug Ducey made multiple references to the need to
address recidivism and addiction. As of this writing, Ducey has
announced two Executive Orders which target aspects of drug
abuse; Establishing Substance Abuse Program for Individuals
Exiting Prison, and Enhanced Surveillance Advisory.77 In declaring
the opioid epidemic a health emergency, the Governor is moving
toward a treatment based approach.

Criminal justice systems actors—including the Arizona Criminal Justice
Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, prosecuting
attorneys and defense attorneys—should work together to develop
a standardized data gathering process across Counties and courts
to collect information on arrests, charging, plea bargaining, use of
sentence enhancements, sentencing outcomes, and other related
metrics to enhance our collective understanding of the current
functioning of our system.

While these are important steps forward, they are not enough
to truly address the nature and impacts of substance abuse and
addiction in Arizona. The greatest cost savings and public safety
outcomes are generated by diverting people from incarceration,
instead of waiting for them to be convicted and incarcerated before
providing them with help.

Aside from data used to prosecute, a standardized data collection
must include information on demographics, particularly gender, race,
and ethnic data, to address the serious problem of disparities.

The best practices in the field recommend providing treatment
outside the realm of the criminal justice system wherever possible.
Any criminal-justice related interventions should be calibrated to the
level of risk posed by the person. Individuals should be placed on the
least restrictive forms of supervision possible for as short a time as
necessary. Incarceration should be reserved for those who truly pose
an immediate threat to public safety.
If effective treatment programs were available on demand for every
person in the state who needs them, there is no doubt that our
prison and jail populations would shrink considerably. Probation
officers, attorneys, emergency room nurses and doctors, public
health advocates, and former drug users have expressed a need
for treatment based approaches, but the main impediment in many
cases is the lack of funding for such services.
The way to correct this problem is to use a justice reinvestment
approach to sentencing reform and policy change. Cost savings
from reductions in the prison population should be directed toward
community-based programs that provide treatment, prevent crime,
divert offenses, and increase community security.

2. Defelonize Drug Possession
No matter how many times a person is found in possession of
drugs, sending them to prison is a waste of money and likely only to
increase their chance of recidivism. Incarceration does not address
addiction and the experience can produce trauma for the individual,
worsening their dependency. Costly prison beds should be reserved
for those who truly pose a threat to public safety, not for people who
have a disease. By not imprisoning those with addiction, monetary
resources can be used to stop the problem before it spirals into
criminal behavior, the erosion of a family, or the loss of life. In recent
years, several states have moved to decriminalize drug possession,
including Utah, South Carolina, and most recently, Oregon.
In one year in Pima County, 60.39% of people were charged with
possession for 2.5 grams or less of a drug. We can assume these
are likely individuals struggling with an addiction. Seventy-six
percent of these individuals went to prison for their possession, not
probation or treatment. They were sentenced collectively to 352 years
in prison, meaning that this one county, in just one year cost
taxpayers over $8.3 million to incarcerate people charged with
low-level possession.

The following is an outline of options for Arizona that can increase
safety, address addiction and reduce the prison population:

Imagine how many treatment beds, counselors, medications, and
other services Pima County could provide with an investment of $8.3
million each year—and how much more that investment would do to
actually address the disease of addiction.

1. Require Standardized Data Collection
and Analysis

3. Expand Non-Criminal Justice
Interventions

The current lack of consistent, aggregate data on arrests,
prosecutions, and incarceration for drug offenses (or any other
offense, for that matter) is unacceptable. As it stands, no one knows
how well the State’s criminal policies are performing, or what their
impacts or true costs might be. This leaves lawmakers, community
leaders, agency heads, and other stakeholders without any foundation
on which to base proposed policy changes or new legislation.

What has been termed the “treatment gap” is rampant in the U.S.
and Arizona for those who want to treat their addiction. In 2013, an
estimated 22.7 million Americans (8.6%) needed treatment for an
alcohol or drug addiction, but only about 2.5 million people (0.9%)
received treatment at a specialized facility.78

19

Frontline Perspective: Drug Addiction Treatment
“You have addiction, you have mental illness, then you have co-occurring [morbidities]. Like with methamphetamine,
you might have methamphetamine psychosis, but as soon as they’re off the methamphetamine they’re not psychotic.
It was the drug that was pushing it. So you have to get an assessment, get them into treatment, let the professionals
do those assessments and out.”
– John Morris, Chief Adult Probation Officer, Yavapai County
Drug treatment, trauma counseling, and medical care should be
the first line of defense against the disease of addiction, not state
surveillance or incarceration. Aside from being more effective, one
report found that for every dollar spent on substance use disorder
treatment saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice
costs.79 Types of drug treatment vary, and like any other health issue,
different treatments work for different people. The following programs
have been recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General as proven
options for reducing addiction without criminalizing the individual:
Medical Monitoring: This can include hospitalization for withdrawal
symptoms and pharmacotherapy services such as Methadone,
Vivitrol, or Suboxone—medications used to treat withdrawal
symptoms and reduce relapse. Remaining under supervision and
monitoring for medication use is key, and people must be able
to receive these services without the fear of later prosecution or
incarceration to ensure recovery and safety.
Residential Treatment: This is an option for acute addiction and
for those who need to be removed from a negative environment
and obtain intensive inpatient treatment. Current programs exist,
but are expensive and have long waiting lists. Increasing the
number of programs and requiring implementation of evidence
based practices, such as behavioral therapies, counseling, and
mental health screenings, is vital.
Intensive Outpatient Services: Outpatient services allow people to
maintain their lives, keeping their job or taking care of a family,
while being supported in recovery. Individualized treatment plans
are essential. People using drugs are often self-medicating due to
past trauma, can suffer from co-occurring disorders, and/or have
severe medical needs. Individualized treatment can address the
spectrum of a person’s needs to move toward recovery without a
damaging interruption in their life.

4. Restructure Drug Sentences
To be charged with possession of drugs in Arizona, a person can
have any amount of drugs, including nothing more than residue.
Individuals can even be charged with “internal possession,” if they
admit to using within the last 72 hours and have a positive urinary
analysis test. The same criteria applies to be charged with sales of
drugs. As long as there is evidence of a sale, even if it is a small

20

amount to support a person’s addiction, regardless of the amount, is
an automatic Class 2 Felony—the same as manslaughter, aggravated
assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery. Arizona drug thresholds
are some of the broadest in the U.S., including states with similar
populations and factors such as proximity to the U.S./Mexico border.
It is impossible to punish addiction out of a person. The application
of sentence enhancements, particularly for people with prior convictions related to addiction is inappropriate and counter-productive.
And the fact that the most common enhancement for a prior is to
eliminate the option of probation—where the individual is most likely
to receive meaningful treatment and support—is a cruel irony.
The nature of addiction dictates that people are likely to relapse.
Treating a relapse as a willful repeat offense instead of a symptom of
a chronic health condition simply criminalizes behavior over which
people have little control. Our sentencing guidelines must reflect the
latest scientific understanding of the nature of drug addiction to truly
address the problem and reduce recidivism.
Far from stemming drug use or making communities safer, these
overly harsh laws have served to clog our prisons with drug addicts,
deny them meaningful treatment while incarcerated, and then release
them with a felony conviction that bars them from meaningful
employment, safe housing, or other critical services.

Poisoning vs. Drug Overdose vs. Motor Vehicle Deaths: Arizona Residents, 2004–2014

Deaths per 100,000 Residents

25
20
15

Poisoning
Drug Overdose
Motor Vehicle

10
5
0

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

An independent, bipartisan review of all of Arizona’s current drug
sentencing statutes and charging practices is a necessary first
step. Such a review should rely on the best practices in addiction
medicine and evidence-based approaches in the field to determine
a fair, consistent, and effective sentencing scheme for addictionrelated offenses.

5. Utilize Public Health and Harm
Reduction Approaches
In Arizona, the number of deaths involving heroin continues to rise
and has more than doubled since 2010. Drug overdoses overall are a
higher rate of deaths in the state than motor vehicle accidents.80
The Arizona Department of Health Services recorded 955 deaths
from drugs in 201581, but this number is likely conservative. Drug
overdoses can be mislabeled as heart failure, acute respiratory
failure, suicide, and more. If a family decides not to have an autopsy,
the toxicology report will not be done to list drugs as the catalyst
for death. For these reasons, we can assume that the rate of drug
overdose deaths is higher.

This law saves lives. 911 Good Samaritan laws have been
supported by police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs),
as they are often the first to respond to overdose emergencies.83
Clean Needle Exchanges: Also known as syringe access, these
laws allow for people or organizations to provide those who use
an intravenous drug with sterile needles without fear of arrest or
punishment. Implementation of such programs has occurred in
various states and cities, from all political ideologies.
Opioid Urgent Care: Using the same process as general urgent
care centers, the opioid urgent care model allows those who
want addiction treatment rapid access to treatment, counseling,
and healthcare resources. Targeted marketing is needed to draw
in the affected populations, but the structure can be integrated
into the general healthcare model over time, evolving addiction
treatment into a norm and not a taboo.

States with 911 Good Samaritan Laws

The rhetoric around drug use being a choice allows public health
issues, such as the rise of Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS from drug use, to
be seen as a justified consequence of drug use. This is dangerous for
all people in Arizona, not just drug users. These are highly contagious, communicable diseases whose spread can be greatly reduced
through basic public health approaches to drug addiction, such as
the implementation of Good Samaritan Laws, clean needle exchanges,
supervised injection facilities, or opioid urgent care centers.
911 Good Samaritan Laws: 911 Good Samaritan Laws exempt
people who call 911 for help during a drug overdose from arrest
and prosecution of drug possession crimes. At the time of this
report, 37 states and the District of Columbia have passed 911
Good Samaritan Drug Laws.82

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures 2017

21

Frontline Perspective: Good Samaritan Laws
“The only time I’ve seen that come into effect is when I was doing an EMS rotation…when we got there we saw the
woman wasn’t breathing. She didn’t have a pulse and we determined it was from an opiate overdose. And the man
in the house with her, who was the one who called 911, said he delayed in calling because he had a warrant out for
his arrest and he was scared what would happen to him. And, so, it was probably too late for her, but if he had called
sooner it might have been fine.”
- Dr. Melody Glenn, Emergency Medicine Physician

Frontline Policy: Clean Needle Exchanges
Following a dramatic 1480% increase in HIV infections in 2015, then Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence passed
Executive Order 15-05, implementing a 30-day clean needle exchange program. Other programs under the
order included educational outreach and the suspension of criminal punishments. Since its implementation,
the number of new cases of HIV tied to the Scott County outbreak has fallen significantly. At the peak of the
outbreak in 2015, 22 new cases were reported in one week, and Scott County saw nearly 180 cases as of late
August 2015. Between November 2015 and Dec. 16, 2016, only 31 cases were confirmed. The program has
been so successful, the Indiana legislature passed House Bill 1438 to extend the program until July 21st, 2021.
Source: Indiana State Department of Health

Frontline Policy: Opiois Urgent Care
Buckhead Urgent Care in Atlanta began opioid focused care in June 2016. The facility offers medical services
for withdrawal symptoms, links to medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol, for addiction treatment, and links
to counseling. Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched an Opioid urgent care in October 2016
to build addiction treatment into the general continuum of healthcare.
For more information, visit urgentcareatlanta.com/buckhead-opioid-addiction-treatment.

22

Appendix 1: Methodology
This research was completed to provide context to drug sentencing
in Arizona. To date there has not been an intensive study on drug
sentencing, the financial impact of overzealous drug laws and prison
sentencing, and the biases that exist for drug sentencing in Arizona.
Considering that Arizona maintains some of the lowest threshold
amounts needed to charge a person for possession of a drug—any
amount over zero—and lower than similar states for sales, there
needs to be a critical look at these laws and their impact.

Population
The data set for this study was taken from court cases from Maricopa,
Pima, and Yavapai counties where a person was charged with a drug
crime and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for at least
one drug crime. These cases were restricted to January 1, 2015 to
December 31, 2015. Any cases where a person was sentenced to a
misdemeanor, alternative programs such as drug court, or county
probation only were excluded. The exclusion of these scenarios was
purposeful, as evaluation was focused on prison sentencing for drug
involved crimes.
Maricopa and Pima counties were chosen because they are the two
most populated counties in Arizona. In December 2015, 76.1% of
the committed population in the Arizona Department of Corrections
consisted of people from Maricopa and Pima. Conversely, Yavapai
only made up 4.4% of the incarcerated population.84 By including
both major metropolitan areas and a rural county, an analysis of the
variations in policy interpretation and implementation are compared.
The number of cases from Maricopa was arranged into a sample size.
Of the 2,927 drug cases in Maricopa in 2015, data was collected for
705, about 24.1%. This sample was a randomized selection to create a
representative sample. The margin of error for this sample is 3.3%
There are other non-drug criminal activities recorded in this data
set. It is not uncommon for people to commit other crimes to obtain
money or goods that can be exchanged for drugs, such as robbery
or petty theft, to feed an addiction. In an effort for transparency, all
charges were recorded to provide a context for the systemic issues
that the criminalization of drug addiction causes. The entire data set
can be accessed at afscarizona.org/issues/publications-reports/. The
names and identifying information of all people in these cases were
removed to protect their privacy.

Sample
All Researched Entries

Non-Technical
Violation Entries

CASES

CHARGES

CASES

CHARGES

Maricopa

705

1733

669

1697

Pima

459

1377

447

1354

Yavapai

156

929

145

866

[1]

Random sample of the 2,927 drug cases in Maricopa in 2015 (or 24.2%). The margin of
error for this sample is +/- 3.3%
[1]

Data Collection
The cases for this study were obtained through the Arizona Public
Records Act, A.R.S. § 39-121 et seq. Records were requested from
the County Attorneys of Maricopa, Pima, and Yavapai counties by the
American Friends Service Committee - Arizona office, asking for the
following:
A.	 Each case number where a person was sentenced to prison for
drug conviction
B.	 All counts a person was charged with under the case number
C.	 Result of each count (i.e. guilty, not guilty, dismissed, etc.)
D.	 Amount of drugs that were found in order to charge the person
with drug offense(s)
E.	 Format of court determining decisions (Jury trial, Plea
Agreement etc.)
F.	 Race categories
G.	 Ethnic categories
H.	 Age categories
I.	 Gender categories
J.	 Citizenship Status
K.	 Sentencing amount in months
L.	 The enhancements, if any, that were used in sentencing,
specifically referring to:
a.	 ARS 13-703
b.	 ARS 13-704
c.	 ARS 13-705
d.	 ARS 13-706
e.	 ARS 13-707
f.	 ARS 13-708
g.	 ARS 13-709
h.	 ARS 13-3419
M.	 The priors, if any, that were used in sentencing, including
a.	 Juvenile record priors
b.	 Counts where person was found guilty
c.	 Counts that did not lead to felony conviction
d.	 Counts that did not lead to misdemeanor convictions
N.	 If the use of a Plea Agreement, Enhancement, or Prior Record
caused a person to be ineligible for probation services

23

Despite the fact that many of these characteristics are pivotal the
length a person is sentenced to prison, the majority of this information is not collected by county attorney offices, public defenders, or
courts. The inconsistency between counties for their data collection
concerning. While sentencing laws are determined by the state, there
appears to be different interpretations between counties. 	
No county recorded the amount of drugs a person was arrested for,
type of enhancements used in sentencing (if any), priors identified
in sentencing (if any), or the probation eligibility status, and many
variables were recorded by only one county. Therefore, to collect
all the information needed to provide a thorough analysis, researchers
used public access information through each counties’ Superior
Court, reviewed digital files, and pulled court case files when necessary
to answer all variables required. Data collection occurred from July
to September 2016.
Semi-structured interviews were used in order strengthen, expand,
and clarify quantitative findings. Eight interviews were conducted
with key actors including, prosecutor and public defenders offices,
people in recovery, treatment and prevention organizations, and adult
probation. Quotes from these interviews are included in the “Frontline Perspectives” boxes. Three basic questions undergirded the
research. These were:
1.	 What are the options available outside of prison?
2.	 How do participants think addiction should be managed?
3.	 Does sending people grappling with substance addiction to
prison increase public safety?

Interviewees were informed that the research was part of a larger
project with AFSC, which would be published and could be used to
support legislative recommendations.
Interviews were separated into two categories based on interviewee
affiliation. Interviews with people working within the criminal justice
system—such as public defenders, prosecutors, or probation—were
asked a subset of questions that focused on charging and sentencing
dynamics. Interviews with service providers, and people in recovery
were asked to discuss the landscape of addiction and effective
responses to substance abuse that increase public safety.
Research participants from Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s
Office, or Adult Probation were asked the following questions:
1.	 What does the opioid epidemic look like in Yavapai county? Who
do you see dealing with opioid addiction in Yavapai County? (age,
socio-economic status, racial dynamics)?
2.	 What sentencing options are available outside of prison, for
people with charges related to their addiction?
3.	 How do you think drug possession cases, where addiction is a
driving factor, should be handled? What would you like to see?
4.	 Our state recidivism rate hovers around 50%. This number is
taken from the ADC monthly data that notes that 49.5% of
people currently incarcerated had a prior ADC term. This same
population demographics set also notes that 75% of people
currently incarcerated in Arizona’s prisons have a history of
significant substance abuse- yet of the more than 33,000 people
enrolled in ADC programming, only a total of 725 people are

X mark indicates County collected the information requested by AFSC
Requested Information from Records Request

Maricopa

Pima

Yavapai

X

X

X

A.

Each case number where a person was found guilty of a drug crime and was
sentenced to prison for this conviction

B.

All counts a person was charged with under each case number

X
X

C.

Result of each count (i.e. guilty, not guilty, dismissed, etc.)

D.

Amount of drugs that were found in order to charge the person with said offense(s)

E.

Format of court determining decisions (Jury trial, Plea Agreement etc.)

F.

Race categories

G.

Ethnic categories

H.

Age categories

I.

X

AGE

DOB

Gender categories

X

X

J.

Citizenship Status

X

Sentencing amount in months

X

L.

The enhancements, if any, that were used in sentencing

M. The priors, if any, that were used in sentencing

24

X

Each county recorded this, but they were recorded
as a single factor, i.e. a person was recorded
as Hispanic only. This causes unleveled data, as
someone can identify as a Black-Hispanic,
White-Hispanic, etc.

K.

N.

X

If the use of a Plea Agreement, Enhancement, or Prior Record caused a person to
be ineligible for probation services

X

X

receiving Addiction Treatment. Given this data from the Arizona
Department of Corrections, do you think sending people
struggling with addiction to prison is an effective public safety
response? Does it solve the problem? If yes, why? If not, what is
the resolution?
5.	 Yavapai County prosecutors bring more charges per case than
Maricopa and Pima counties, who average 2.79 charges per case.
Yavapai county averages 5.97 charges per case. What is your
analysis of finding/charging discrepancy?
6.	 Drug abuse and addiction are widely regarded as forms of
mental illness. Do you agree? Why/Why not? Do you believe drug
abuse/addiction should be treated as a mental illness instead
of or in partnership with criminal justice options? Do you have
suggestions for how this might look in Yavapai county?
Medical professionals and people in recovery were asked following
questions:

Research Codes
Drug Amounts: Drug amounts were generally listed in police
reports from the initial arrest, although sometimes it was necessary
to go into court transcripts. Weight was converted to grams if in any
other metric (i.e. 4 pounds = 1814.37 grams). However, there were
many cases where either, 1) no weight amount was specified, or 2)
no information on the amount of drugs was in the case file. The
following coding sequence was developed to maintain consistency:
Racial Identity: While researchers did their best in recording
racial identity, there were challenges. In Pima, there was no public
court document that regularly identified a person’s race. In Yavapai,
multiple police reports were pre-filled with multiple race/ethnic
information, making it unclear. To maintain consistency, researchers
were instructed to use DOC data as a cross reference. If there was a
difference in the two areas, DOC data was used.

1.	 What does the opioid epidemic look like in Yavapai county? Who
do you see dealing with opioid addiction in Yavapai County? (age,
socio-economic status, touchy but- racial dynamics)?

Format for trial: Recorded as the type of format for sentencing.
i.e., if someone started a jury trial, then decided to take a plea, their
format for sentencing was recorded as “Plea Agreement”

2.	 Did you know that 75% of people incarcerated in Arizona have
a history of significant substance addiction and that only 725
people total receive addiction treatment? Additionally, Arizona
Department of Corrections says that 50% of people currently
incarcerated have served a prior ADC term (so recidivism rate
hovers around 50%). Given this ADC data, do you think prison
works in treating addiction? Are there other options available?

Sentencing Length: Recorded the amount of months at the time
of sentencing from the Sentencing court documents. If a person
appealed and obtained a reduced sentence that was not recorded.
 

3.	 How do you think crimes related to addiction should be handled?
4.	 Do you think opioid addiction is a public safety issue?
5.	 What do you think works?
6.	 What would you like to see available- as a professional managing
this issue- as a person in recovery?

CODING IN RESEARCH

DEFINITION

NUMBER
WITH CODE

Weight in grams:

Exact amount listed in report in grams, often converted from pounds or ounces.

1264

Not Stated:

No information on amount of drugs was in the case file.

210

Not Specified:

Drug amount was indicated in the case file, but not in a specific weight. Examples include; baggie of marijuana, bindle of meth, small amount of drugs, etc.

443

“Usable”:

Language used in police reports to justify drug use and create a criminal charge.

85

Admitted to drug use/
Dirty Urinary Analysis:

No amount of drugs were required to be seen to file a charge if a person admitted to using drugs
in the county in the last 72 hours and provided a positive urine sample.

21

Unknown:

Researcher error in entering the data, so no amount was recorded.

12

Total Drug charges

2035

25

Appendix 2: Charts and Graphs
Researched Cases:
Gender

Researched Cases:
Citizenship Status

Men 86.36%
Women 13.64%

Researched Cases:
Race/Ethnicity

US Citizen 82.47%
Non-US Citizen 17.37%
Unknown 0.16%

Latino 44%
White 42%
Black 10%
Native American 3%
Other 1%

Difference in Prison Sentences: Plea Deals vs. Trial Sentencing
Charge
Marijuana Possession
Marijuana Sales
Marijuana Transport
Methamphetamine Possession
Methamphetamine Sales
Methamphetamine Transport
Narcotic Possession
Narcotic Sales
Narcotic Transport

Priors

Avg. Months
sentenced Plea

Avg. Months
sentenced Trial

Percent Increase
in sentence
when Trial

Yes

14.55

16.5

13.40%

No

15

n/a

n/a

Yes

29.67

119.25

301.92%

No

24.21

34.29

41.64%

Yes

43.13

111

157.36%

No

22.06

45

103.99%

Yes

31.23

75.38

141.37%

No

23.11

12*

-48.07%

Yes

68.28

163

138.72%

No

53.11

60*

12.97%

Yes

58.53

126

115.27%

No

53.25

n/a

n/a

Yes

28.82

111.5

286.88%

No

28.9

n/a

n/a

Yes

47.20

153.5

225.21%

No

33.92

n/a

n/a

Yes

55.14

189

242.76%

No

38.4

n/a

n/a

*Only one trial case in study, further research is needed.

26

Pima County Possession Charges
Pima County
Possession
Charges

Total Time
Sentenced
to Prison
(months)

Average Time
Sentenced
to Prison
(months)

Total Possession Charges

457

6406

22.09

Charges less than 2.5 grams of drug

276

4224

20.11

 Guilty

210

4224

20.11

  African American

26

617

24.68

  Latino

60

1174

19.57

  Native American

8

105

13.13

  White

114

2283

20.02

Average Sentencing Length: Drug Possession vs. Drug Sales

Marijuana
Methamphetamines
Narcotics

Priors

Average
Sentence for
Possession

Average
Sentence
for Sales

Yes

15.37

45

No

15

25.56

Yes

31.79

67.75

No

24.06

49.56

Yes

32.06

63.76

No

28.9

36.16

Possession Charges: Amounts less than 2.5 Grams and Sentencing Result
All Charges

Guilty

Plead to Other
charge

Percent resulting
in prison time

All charges studied

3917

1635

178

46.29%

Possession Only Charges

1146

738

11

65.36%

Possession charges for <1 gram*

366

271

3

74.86%

Possession charges for <2.5 grams*

472

351

4

75.21%

*includes “Usable” and UA/Admitted

27

References
1	

Arizona Department of Health, “2016 Arizona Opioid Report” June 2017.

32	 National Institute of Corrections, Corrections Statistics by State, “Arizona.” February 2017.

2	

National Institute of Corrections, Corrections Statistics by State, “Arizona.” February 2017.

3	

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), “Alcohol, Drugs,
and Crime,” June 27, 2015.

33	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Admissions, Releases, Confined Population Fact
Sheet,” FY2016.

4	

Kim, KiDeuk et al, “The Processing and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons in the
Criminal Justice System,” Urban Institute, March 2015

5	

Ibid.

6	

Arizona Department of Corrections, “Corrections at a Glance,” September 2016.

7	

Arizona Department of Public Safety, Crime in Arizona 2015.

8	

Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Arizona Drug Control Update.” August 2013.

9	

National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Arizona Table 15 Selected Drug Use” 2014.

10	 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “United State Table 1 Selected Drug Use” 2014.
11	 Office of National Drug Control Policy, “Arizona Drug Control Update.” August 2013.
12	 Borden, T. et al. Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the
United States. United States: Human Rights Watch, October 2016.
13	 Maricopa County Superior Court, Case numbers; CR2014030418, CR2014146057,
CR2015107436, CR2015114324, CR2015115009, CR2015120008, CR2015124731,
CR2015133445, CR2015139384. Pima County Superior Court, Case numbers;
CR20143433.
14	 Yavapai County Superior Court, Case number CR201580258

34	 Ibid.
35	 Ibid.
36	 Ibid.
37	 The Sentencing Project, “Fact Sheet: Incarcerated Women and Girls,” November 2015.
38	 Ibid.
39	 American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures.”
40	 Arizona Department of Health Services, “Opioid Report,” June 15-July 13, 2017.
41	 U.S. News and World Report, “5 Reasons Women are More Prone to Drug Abuse,”
September 26, 2017.
42	 Shaddox, Colleen “Women at higher risk for opioid addiction, face treatment barriers,”
C-hit.org, April 2, 2017.
43	 Arizona Supreme Court, “Proposition 200 Working, Saving Money, Says Arizona
Supreme Court,” Summer 1999.
44	 Arizona Revised Statutes, §13-901.01
45	 State of Arizona, Appellee, v. Robert QUINONES, Appellant. Supreme Court of
Arizona, In Banc. 19 Feb. 1970.

15	 Pima County Superior Court, Case Number CR20144698.

46	 Fischer, Daryl R. PhD. “Prisoners in Arizona: A 2014 Update on Selected Topics”
Report. Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council, 2014.

16	 Yavapai County Superior Court, Case Number CR201400846.

47	 U.S. Census 2015, QuickFacts, Arizona.

17	 Arizona Department of Corrections, Corrections at a Glance, December 2015

48	 Arizona Department of Public Safety, “Crime in Arizona,” 2015

18	 Maricopa County Superior Court, Annual Report FY2015

49	 Arizona Department of Corrections, Corrections at a Glance, December 2015.

19	 Superior Court Case Activity, FY2015, “Maricopa County, All Cases on File.” Arizona
Superior Court.

50	 Eppler-Epstein, Sarah. “We don’t know how many Latinos are affected by the criminal
justice system.” Urban Wire. Urban Institute, October 2016.

20	 Criminal Code Sentencing Chart, Arizona Judicial Branch.

51	 Porter, Nicole. “Cracked Justice,” The Sentencing Project, March 2011.

21	 State v. Peeler, 126 Ariz. 254, 614 P.2d 335 (1980).

52	 Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, “General Fund Budget Changes
FY2008-FY2015.”

22	 Yavapai County Superior Court, Case Number CR201400898
23	 Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531 (2004), citing Appendix v. New
Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348 (2000). “Prosecutors Manual.” Arizona Prosecuting
Attorneys’ Advisory Council. Volume II Chapter 7 –Priors for Enhancement,
24	 Under A.R.S. S13-701(d)(11), State v. Davis, 134 Ariz. 87, 88, 654 P.2d 21, 22 (App.
Div. 2 1982); Ponds v. State ex rel. Eyman, 7 Ariz.App. 276, 438 P.2d 423 (1968); State
v. Bridges, 12 Ariz.App. 153, 468 P.2d 604 (App. Div. 1 1970); and State v. Jackson,
130 Ariz. 195, 635 P.2d 180 (App. Div. 2 1981). Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory
Council. Volume II Chapter 7 –Priors for Enhancement.
25	 National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A
Research-Based Guide,” 3rd Ed. December 2012
26	 Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council. “Prosecutors Manual.” Volume II
Chapter 7 –Priors for Enhancement. <http://apaac.az.gov/prosecution-statistics/
topics/section/8-apaac-research-guide-prosecutors-manual>
27	 Superior Court Case Activity, FY2015, “Statewide Total County, All Cases on File.”
Arizona Superior Court.
28	 Maricopa Superior Court, Case number CR2015122479

53	 National Association of State Budget Officers, “State Expenditure Report: Examining
Fiscal 2014-2016 State Spending,” 2016.
54	 Grand Canyon Institute, Press Release, “Arizona Spends Too Much Incarcerating,
Too Little on Personnel, Drug Treatment, Transition Services, and Higher Education,”
February 1, 2016.
55	 Zarkin, Gary A., et al., “Lifetime Benefits and Costs of Diverting Substance-Abusing
Offenders From State Prison,” Updated July 15, 2015.
56	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “FY2016 Operating Per Capita Cost Report.”
57	 Memo from Shelby Scharbach, Assistant Maricopa County Manager and CFO to
Maricopa County Cities and Towns, “Final Jail Per Diem Billing Rates for FY 2016-17,”
dated January 22, 2016.
58	 Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, “Annual Report: FY2015.”
59	 Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services,
“Annual Report on Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, Fiscal Year 2015.”
December 31, 2015.
60	 Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, “Annual Report: FY2015.”

29	 Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council. “Prosecutors Manual.” Volume I
Chapter 6 – Plea Agreements.

61	 Ibid.

30	 Keller, Josh and Adam Pearce, “This small Indiana County sends more people to
prison than San Francisco and Durham, NC combined. Why?,” New York Times,
September 2, 2016

63	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Admissions, Releases, Confined Population Fact
Sheet,” FY2016.

31	 Keller, Josh and Adam Pearce, “This small Indiana County sends more people to
prison than San Francisco and Durham, NC combined. Why?,” New York Times,
September 2, 2016

28

62	 The Sentencing Project, “Fact Sheet: Incarcerated Women and Girls,” November 2015.

64	 The Sentencing Project, “Fact Sheet: Incarcerated Women and Girls,” November 2015.
65	 KARE Family Center, “Children of Incarcerated Parents,”<http://www.starsmp.org/
pages/incarcerated.php>

66	 U.S. Census 2015, QuickFacts, “Arizona” 2015.
67	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Corrections at a Glance,” June 2016.
68	 Arizona Department of Public Safety, “Crime in Arizona,” 2015.
69	 Gelb, Adam. “The Lack of a Relationship between Drug Imprisonment and Drug
Problems” memo to Governor Chris Christie, June 19, 2017.
70	 Ibid.
71	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Corrections at a Glance,” December 2015.
72	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Corrections at a Glance,” December 2016.
73	 World Health Organization, Information Sheet: “Mental Health and Prisons.”
Accessed online, November 2016. <http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/
mh_in_prison.pdf>
74	 National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A
Research-Based Guide,” 3rd Ed. December 2012.
75	 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, press release: “Surgeon General
Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health,” November 17, 2016.
76	 National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A
Research-Based Guide,” 3rd Ed. December 2012.
77	 Executive Orders. Office of the Governor. June 2017.
78	 National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH),
“Drug Facts: Nationwide Trends,” June 2015.
79	 Ettner, S. L, et al. “Benefit-cost in the California treatment outcome project: Does
substance abuse treatment “pay for itself”?”. Health Services Research, 41(1),
192-213, 2006.
80	 Dudek, Jennifer D., MPH, “Poisonings among Arizona Residents 2014”Arizona
Department of Health Services, 2015.
81	 Arizona Department of Health Services, “Number of Deaths from Unintentional
Injuries in Accidents by Category and Year Among Arizona Residents, 2005-2015.”
82	 Conference of State Legislatures, Civil and Criminal Justice National “Drug Overdose
Immunity and Good Samaritan Laws” January 20, 2017.
83	 Green, Traci. et al., “Law enforcement attitudes toward overdose prevention and
response,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 133, no. 2, 2013; Banta-Green et al.,
“Police Officers’ and Paramedics’ Experiences with Overdose and Their Knowledge
and Opinions of Washington State’s Drug Overdose-Naloxone-Good Samaritan Law.”
Law enforcement attitudes toward overdose prevention and response. Green TC1,
Zaller N, Palacios WR, Bowman SE, Ray M, Heimer R, Case P. December 13, 2013.
84	 Arizona Department of Corrections, “Corrections at a Glance,” December 2015, and
Personal email communication with Jaime Guzman, AZDOC, July 7, 2016.

29

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