Arizona legislative session opened Monday, January 8th but it really got moving today, January 11th, for criminal justice reforms in the state. Right on Crime hosted a legislative briefing breakfast for lawmakers to introduce reform ideas from both Arizona and around the country. In addition to briefing lawmakers on ROC priorities for 2018, which include significant fines and fees reform, driver’s license reform, and importantly the sealing of certain felony convictions by amending Arizona’s “Vacate and Set Aside” statute, they were introduced to policy ideas that have worked around the nation. The breakfast was well attended. Among the more than 100 people in attendance, were approximately 30 members of the legislature, policy staff, and criminal justice reform coalition partners from both sides of the aisle. Policy discussions were lively, and it was clear that momentum is on the side of reform. The experience of listening to varying perspectives on issues from pre-trial diversion to re-entry, and everything in between, only served to enhance understanding and spawn further interest in the issues.
Now the real work begins. Although the desire to score touchdowns and win big is present, the plays still need to drawn and executed and the ball moved down the field, one yard at a time. Sometimes we hit the deep route, but mostly laws get passed with a ground game that eats up three yards at a time with a cloud of dust. The next three to four months the Capitol will be home to this Right on Crime State Director, moving three yards at a time. Reform takes real work to become reality, but 2018 could not have kicked off any better.
Special thanks goes out to all our reform partners who helped ROC make the breakfast a reality, especially my good friends Marilyn and Sam at Creosote Partners. The successful kick off doesn’t happen without you guys!
-Kurt M. Altman, PLC, is a former state and federal prosecutor and Alison Holcomb is director of the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice.
This story was originally posted on the Right on Crime website.