We are all entitled to our own opinions about how best to reform the criminal justice system. We are not entitled to our own facts about who is being prosecuted and imprisoned, and for what.
The facts, according to Pima County Superior Court and the Arizona Department of Corrections, are simple.
- In 2019 the Pima County Attorney’s Office charged more people with felonies than ever before.
- In Pima County last year, more people were charged with a felony drug offense as the most serious charge than with any other kind of felony offense, which has been true for fourteen of the last seventeen years.
- 70% of these drug offenses involved two grams of drugs or less — equivalent to two sugar packets. Examining September 2019 as an example, 36% of all felony cases filed by the Pima County Attorney that month were cases in which a drug offense was the most serious charge. 4% were for DUI, 1% were for domestic violence, and 9% were for other types of aggravated assault.
- More people are in Arizona prisons for drug offenses as their most serious charge than for any other offense, which has been true for years if not decades.
- Finally, Pima County sends more people to prison and jail and places more people on probation for drug possession as the most serious charge than for any other type of crime.