Although violent crime is at historic lows. Arizona still has the 4th highest incarceration rate in the U.S. and the highest of all western states.In fact, 70%-80% of the inmates held in the PimaCounty jail are there on pretrial status meaning that they have not been convicted of a crime but will not be released until they pay a cash bond. Here in Tucson, city court magistrates and superior court judges continue to impose high cash bonds keeping the Pima County Jail population at near capacity level. However, even low cash bonds under $1000 can be beyond the ability of many people to pay and it is keeping them locked behind bars—away from their families, unable to keep their jobs and more likely to plead guilty to get out of jail.
The problem of pretrial detention is further exacerbated by the Arizona Courts use of PSAs
(Public Safety Assessments). In fact, all Arizona Courts using pretrial service units or assigned staff to do pretrial service functions are required to use a state- approved pretrial risk assessment (PSA) tool.
PSAs are used to predict a pretrial defendant’s risk of committing a new crime or failing to appear while on pretrial release or danger to public safety.
Yet, these so-called science based assessments are deeply flawed and perpetuate the same race and class divisions already institutionalized by the implicit bias of judges. Over 100+ human rights and civil rights groups from around the country, including TSCCBF, have strongly condemned the this pivot toward PSAs which do nothing to end the structural inequities fueling mass incarceration. Follow this link to read the group’s statement opposing the use of PSAs as a pretrial release tool:
TSCCBF is not only fighting to end cash bail, it is battling to create a more just criminal court system in Arizona. We need your help to achieve these goals.