Arizona has a huge prison population. Lawmakers take no action to change that. Why?

Reform advocates say Bill Montgomery and other prosecutors have the Legislature’s ear and push harsher sentences.

By Megan Cassidy | The Republic

Finally, they thought. Changes to some of Arizona’s strict criminal-justice statutes could be on the way.

Advocates of reform believed some conservative lawmakers were taking up the cause after years of tough-on-crime laws had helped boost the state’s incarceration rate to the fourth-highest in the country.

In January, Republican Rep. David Stringer of Prescott was leading a bipartisan study group on criminal-justice reform. A bill to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor instead of a felony had attracted 36 co-sponsors, 18 of them Republican.

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