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Report: Criminal Justice Reform Could Save Arizona Taxpayers More Than $1B

A recent report by a consultant says Arizona could save more than $1 billion by reforming its criminal justice system.

Current state law mandates Arizona inmates must serve 85% of their prison sentence, no matter what type of crime they committed.

But Jim Rounds of Rounds Consulting told PBS’s “Arizona Horizon,” the state could save a lot of money by releasing some prisoners much earlier.

“If we allow some of the nonviolent offenders to earn release credits so they can shorten their time in prison, they can have better opportunities to join the workforce," said Rounds. "That means instead of being the recipient of taxes, they’re actually paying taxes.”

Rounds also said the state mandate for length of time served is one of the highest percentages in the country.

Last year, a state ballot measure addressing early release failed to garner enough signatures.

Still, Rounds intimated state lawmakers are entertaining a watered-down version of that measure this legislative season. “If we can get something like this passed, I’d like to even see some of the money being used for enhanced workforce training programs for after the fact and really help some individuals out. But, we’re also helping taxpayers, too,” he said.

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.