(Ted Houston, KFYI News) A new statewide poll shows a slim majority of Arizona residents oppose expanding the state's prison system and oppose privately-run prisons. In addition, nearly three-quarters support alternatives to incarceration.
The survey of 600 likely voters was commissioned by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker prison reform organization.
It shows 52% of respondents say the $1 billion Arizona spends on prisons each year – out of the state's $8.5 billion budget – is too much. Instead, 70% of respondents say they would like to see shorter sentences for low-risk, non-violent offenders, and more non-prison alternatives such as mental-health courts, drug treatment programs, and supervised probation.
A slim majority – also 52% – of Arizona residents also oppose using private companies to run state prisons. Respondents said they feel the state government can operate prisons more effectively and efficiently than private, for-profit companies.
Respondents identified themselves as 43% Republican 36% Democrat, and 21% independent. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.