Pima County, AZ

Summary

A major commercial and academic hub, Pima County is home to Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona. The county is approximately 9,200 square miles, has the second largest population of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas of the United States. Its population, which has nearly tripled since 1970 and is projected to reach 1.4 million by 2041, is almost one third Hispanic.

Pima County leadership has engaged in a series of successful collaborations in pursuit of local justice reform, such as the recent creation of a Crisis Response Center and Behavioral Health Pavilion to provide integrated care to those experiencing behavioral health crises and help them avoid unnecessary incarceration, as well as a Sheriff’s Department Mental Health Investigative Support Team to coordinate responses with Pima County Behavioral Health and other law enforcement agencies. In addition, the county has spearheaded jail re-entry strategies and instituted programs to assess a defendant’s risk to reoffend and target specific interventions for medium-to-high-risk inmates. To continue building on past reform efforts, Pima County was awarded $1.5 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2016 to invest in strategies that will further reduce the average daily jail population over the next three years.

The county will seek to safely reduce its jail population through: risk screening for all misdemeanor defendants in order to increase post-booking releases from jail; diverting nonviolent individuals with substance abuse or mental health issues to post-booking treatment instead of jail; an enhanced automated call, text and email court-date reminder system that is expected to reduce failure to appear rates; and detention alternatives made possible through electronic monitoring technology.

Pima County has created a 32-member Community Collaborative to help guide its implementation strategies and provide additional outreach and education opportunities.  The Collaborative members, who have broad experience with the criminal justice system, include   formerly incarcerated men and women, family members impacted by incarceration, victim advocates, judges, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court personnel, and tribal representatives.

For more information about Pima County’s efforts, visit its website at www.pima.gov/safetyandjustice or follow it at www.facebook.com/PCSafetyJustice or @PCSafetyJustice.

 

  • More than 80% of inmates in the jail are typically in pretrial status
  • Native Americans make up only 2.4% of the county’s population, but they represent 6.75% of those held prior to trial on misdemeanor and low-level felony charges, and 8% of those held in jail on failure to appear charges
  • Mental illness and substance abuse affect an estimated 60% of the jail population
  • Expanding risk screening to all misdemeanor defendants in order to increase post-booking releases from jail
  • Adding substance abuse and mental health screening before the initial court appearance to provide the judge safe options for release to treatment instead of jail
  • Enhancing an automated call, text, and email court-date reminder system that is expected to reduce failure to appear rates
  • Adding detention alternatives through electronic monitoring technology
  • The county will be investing $3.1 million over the next three years, including $1.5 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, with the goal of reducing the jail population by 17%
  • This would allow the jail to close five 64-person pods and save an estimated $2.7 million a year

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