It's heartening to see that our state is beginning to recognize that incarceration for substance abusers is ineffective. Virtually all evidence points to treatment having better results in many cases. It's also saves money. Yet the national average for incarceration of substance abusers as 10% while in Arizona it's 24%, and in February the House Judiciary Committee refused to hear two bills that have wide partisan support and would have made changes to sentencing procedures.

But now at least eleven AZ Republican legislators support reform. Groups as diverse as Americans for Prosperity and the ACLU are working for reform, and states like California, Colorado, and Texas are moving to reduce sentencing. Even though our county attorneys generals drag their feet, the issue is becoming less and less partisan as liberals and conservatives favor a system that will be more effective at a lower cost.

George Mairs


Disclaimer: As submitted to the Arizona Daily Star.

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