As a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Denny Barney is interested in all the area’s citizens, even those spending time in jail. Barney and his colleagues on the Board have been working since last year on a Smart Justice initiative, focusing on the sort of reform that will reduce recidivism by increasing education.
In an article for AZ Central, Barney lays out a five step plan of reform to the current system. These steps include an improved assessment of recidivism risks and offender needs, addressing “criminogenic” factors, an enhanced curriculum for the county’s substance abuse program, rethinking our approach toward the mentally ill, and focusing on the female prison population.
Barney states that, while the imprisoned male population has decreased over the past decade, the female population remains steady. By addressing this important prison minority, Barney and his colleagues hope to make a real dent in both recidivism and prison spending.
For those concerned about the issues of releasing criminals into the general population, Barney points out that, nationally, 5 percent of criminals commit 40 percent of crime. Barney’s hope is that this initiative will do away with the “one size fits all” mentality of sentencing by making the punishment fit the crime, both to the benefit of those criminals who wish to reform and the Maricopa community.
While he’s aware of the immense challenges ahead, Barney states, “I’m proud that Maricopa County’s Smart Justice is ahead of the curve on many issues. And we will continue to look for results that both save taxpayers money and increase the safety of our communities.”