I was told once that if you like the law and you like sausage, you should never experience the making of either. I was told this at a cook out during my first week of law school, while eating a sausage. Of course I laughed, but after years of working in courtrooms and capitol buildings all over the nation, I think I finally get it. In Arizona the “sausage making” is in full swing. The session is moving along and we’ve hit the first deadline to have bills heard in each chamber. Now they need to cross over or they turn into scraps, likely to be added to the sausage recipe for next year. This year’s process has been difficult. Criminal justice reform is high on many agendas, but with that good news comes a difficult process; because there are many cooks in the kitchen, or rather, sausage makers. Many groups from both inside and outside Arizona have taken an interest in and brought forth their concerns and ideas on the topic. The tough part is finding the right recipe, but so far it appears to be working.
To date, every criminal justice reform bill that advances Right on Crime policies is alive and moving. Some examples are HB 2312, 2313, 2314, and 2169. These bills, in order, address the setting aside and vacating of certain convictions, fines and fees reform, misdemeanor sentencing reforms, and the decriminalization of driving on a suspended license for failing to pay civil violations. Like always, the bills protect the public first, while also protecting taxpayers and ensuring the criminal justice system produces a product that serves everyone inside and outside the system.
Though things are moving well so far, it has not been easy. There have been changes, amendments, support and opposition. Bottom line—so far, so good in Arizona, though the sausage isn’t even half done. Hopefully the Senate will add its ingredients and in the end we’ll have a sweet and tangy package of laws that move Arizona forward. Sometimes watching laws being made can be frustrating, but just like that Johnsonville I was eating so long ago at the cookout, when its done being made, it is well worth the effort.
-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.