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A push from the right: More conservatives joining fight to change sentencing guidelines

Since the late 1970s, rising crime has led lawmakers to require prison time for many non-violent offenses.

But some say eliminating the options of fines, work release, substance-abuse treatment and house arrest in favor of prison time can turn non-violent offenders into career criminals.

Now, as states face large budget deficits, calls for reforming sentencing for non-violent offenders also are coming increasingly from conservatives who call prison costs unsustainable.

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All is not lost: State never delivered financial incentive, but probation program found some success (access required)

The Legislature tried to give probation departments a financial incentive in 2008 to keep revocations and prison populations down.

However, lawmakers never came up with the money for the incentives. And this past session, lawmakers repealed the incentives program known as the Safe Communities Act (SCA). Even in the absence of the financial part, the program was considered a success by some because of the methods probation departments developed and refined during that time.

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Most death penalty rationales fray under scrutiny

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a criminal executed and another execution is scheduled pending a last-minute review. Every time Arizona doles out the most severe punishment humans have the capacity to inflict on one another, I find myself asking: When criminals are killed for their crimes, what are we hoping will result, and what actually results?

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