February 8, 2021
Arizona Criminal Justice Reform: Savings & Economic Benefits

Executive Summary

Rounds Consulting Group, Inc. (RCG) was retained to quantify the economic impact of a key provision of
Initiative I-32-2020: The Second Chances, Rehabilitation, and Public Safety Act. The Second Chances Act
(SCA) focused on rehabilitation for incarcerated people in Arizona by shortening the time-served
requirements for people convicted of non-dangerous offenses and increasing judicial discretion in
sentencing in order to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.


Arizona has the fifth-highest imprisonment rate in the nation, with 790 people in prison for every 100,000
adults.1 As of July 2020, there were 39,3402 incarcerated people in state prisons throughout Arizona;
45.7% are in prison for non-violent offenses, and 49.5% are serving sentences for their first felony

In 2020, Initiative 1-32-2020: The Second Chances, Rehabilitation, and Public Safety Act was filed. One of
the core policy proposals in the Second Chances Act, expanding earned release credits (Proposed ERC
Policy), would have allowed eligible people convicted of non-dangerous crimes to receive additional
credits toward early release by participating in educational, work, treatment, and other rehabilitative
programs while incarcerated.
Participation in such programs has been shown to decrease recidivism and increase post-release
outcomes (such as employment status and income level), safely reducing the prison population and
boosting the economy.

Although the SCA did not make the ballot, the Proposed ERC Policy would create
significant economic benefits and can be enacted in the 2021 legislative session.
FWD.us, a bipartisan immigration and criminal justice advocacy organization, extensively analyzed Arizona
corrections data5 and projected that the Proposed ERC Policy would lead to an 18% to 23% decline in
Arizona’s prison population over the next 10 years. Using estimated average and marginal costs per
incarcerated person from state agency reports, RCG developed various scenarios to estimate the savings
that would be generated by the Proposed ERC Policy and subsequent reductions in the prison population
within the next decade.

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