Legislative Update: March 14, 2022

Last week, JCA signed a letter with more than two dozen partners trying to raise the alarm to law makers about the concerning bills and urging them to rethink our approach in Arizona. 

Arizona must stop the piecemeal approach to modifying criminal laws and look at system-wide solutions, including identifying innovative and effective policies that do not rely on systems of punishment but instead support communities and actually work to reduce crime.

The letter called out bills that make mandatory minimum sentences or create new (often redundant) crimes, including:

  • SB 1001: Expands the already very broad crime of theft by extortion which has a mandatory sentence of 1.5 – 3 years in prison.
  • SB 1251: Expands the definition of armed robbery, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 7-21 years (depending on the person’s record).
  • SB 1311/HB 2635: Makes any assault against a healthcare worker a felony with a mandatory minimum of 3 months in prison regardless of whether the worker was injured.
  • SB 1379: Makes transporting undocumented persons up to a Class 4 felony punishable by 1.5 – 3 years in prison if the person transporting them knows they are here unlawfully.
  • SB 1445: Expands the smuggling statute to create mandatory minimums of up to 10-24 years for refugees bringing their children to Arizona.
  • SB 1633: Criminalizes investigations conducted for a legitimate purpose by defining them as criminal harassment punishable by up to six months in jail.
  • HB 2021: Imposes a 10-29 year sentence for a new “homicide” offense that does not require any intent to kill.
  • HB 2251: Creates a mandatory minimum of 3-7 years in prison (depending on the person’s record) for a newly-created assault that is already covered by existing law.
  • HB 2319: Criminalizes First-Amendment-protected activity, recording law enforcement, as a petty or misdemeanor offense even when there is no interference with police.
  • HB 2322: Vaguely and broadly expands the crime of “hazing,” which could result in a class 1 misdemeanor and up to 6 months in jail.
  • HB 2324: Creates a new misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, for having a minor in a building where someone is preparing for an animal fight.
  • HB 2343: Creates the new crime of interfering with a crime scene, punishable by up to four months in jail, which is broad enough to violate the First Amendment.
  • HB 2355: Increases the mandatory minimum sentence to 25 years to life for anyone tried as an adult and convicted of the second-degree murder of a minor less than 15 years old (which includes reckless conduct in addition to an intentional killing).
  • HB 2696: Increases the mandatory sentence to 39-111 years for anyone tried as an adult and convicted of a dangerous crime against children in the first degree (which includes a serious fight between high school students).You can also make your voice heard on these bills! Call your state representative and senator and let them know you want them to embrace “smart-on-crime” policies that improve public safety and to invest in mental health care, substance abuse counseling, and other support that help reduce crime, prevent recidivism and offer a far greater return on investment than prison ever will.