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Arizona’s tough-on-crime stance costs big bucks (access required)

Crime in Arizona has dramatically declined this decade, but the number of Arizonans in prison continues to climb and has grown by nearly 50 percent since 2002, thanks in part to the creation of new crimes and tougher sentencing guidelines. Supporters of the tough-on-crime approach say the figures show that the laws are doing what is intended: making Arizona safer by keeping dangerous criminals behind bars. But critics say that idea defies research and the state can't afford to continue the trajectory, especially in a time of fiscal crisis.

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Wishful thinking interrupted by budget reality (access required)

JLBC has singled out three budget provisions that wouldn't live up to their billing: a plan to save $50 million due to reduced fraud in the health care system; deals to privatize nine of the 10 state prisons; and a plan to raise $735 million by selling dozens of state buildings, then leasing them back. But there's more.

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Some agencies avoid submitting reduction reports (access required)

When drafting reports to show the impact of 15 percent cuts to their budgets, some state agencies described how their services would be gutted. Some simply explained why such cuts aren't feasible. And others, such as the Governor's Office, which ordered the reports, don't seem to know where to even make the cuts.

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Jack Harper’s $13,000 question

In a quest to kill a component of the budget earlier this year, Sen. Jack Harper cost the state more than $13,000. But the Republican lawmaker says the money was well-spent, and may have saved the state from letting hundreds of "hardened" criminals out on the street...

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Brewer approves $50 million in stimulus money for Corrections (access required)

Gov. Jan Brewer on Sept. 18 approved the use of $50 million in federal stimulus money to help pay the salaries of Department of Corrections officers. The $50 million is the first portion awarded by Brewer from a pool of stimulus money called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Government Services Fund. The $185 million pool can be used by the governor for essentially any government services she wants.

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Last stop for felons is no field of dreams (access required)

FLORENCE — A five-acre cemetery in this small community holds the remains of shattered lives — the lives of the people buried there, the lives of those they touched and, by extension, the lives they took. Here lie murderers by the dozens, as well as rapists, robbers and other felons. There are 457 in all, with room for an additional 440, says Carson McWilliams, warden of the Arizona State Prison Complex at Florence.

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