We have not had a lot of action in the Legislature this week, as Republican plot behind closed doors. We had a few proclamations and a few votes today, including the final vote on HB2889, the mandatory sentencing bill for multiple levels of child abuse. This passed the House a few weeks ago, but was amended in the Senate. It is a bit less harsh than the original bill but still mandatory sentencing related to an issue that Arizona has been ignoring for a long time.
Rep. Walt Blackman had a proclamation about Child Abuse Prevention Month and called upon members to “keep in mind the next generation and keep them safe.” I think that’s a great idea. In fact, I have been talking about building a stronger Arizona for a future generations for the last five years. It would be helpful if Blackman would join me in legislation to tackle poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences if he wants to protect future generations and help them thrive. In his criminal justice committee, Blackman has been passing progressive legislation to tackle Arizona’s overcrowded prison population and discriminatory practices, but today he walked backwards and voted with everybody else to increase mandatory sentencing.￼
Arizona is WORST in the nation for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, sexual violence, physical neglect, emotional neglect, domestic violence, addiction, mental illness, or loss of a parent.
Continue reading Putting More People in Prison Won’t Help Child Abuse Victims (video)
Prison and sentencing reform have been major bipartisan issues in the Arizona House for the past few years. Although there has been much bipartisan effort and many bills proposed, pretty much everything was stopped at the committee level by former Legislators and Judiciary Chairs John Allen and Eddie Farnsworth.
Those two are both gone. Rep. Walt Blackman’s Criminal Justice Committee has passed several good bills on prison reform, sentencing reform, and prison oversight.￼ Several of them have passed the full house.
Unfortunately, the House is passing mandatory sentencing bills at the same time as we are advancing reform.￼ I was the only person who voted against HB2889.
Rep. Leo Biasiucci’s HB2889 is all about punishment. It ignores the fact that most people in prison were abused children. Focusing on punishment — while ignoring prevention, rehabilitation, and expansion of victims’ rights to report past abuse — won’t solve this problem. In fact, Senator Paul Boyer’s child abuse reporting bill from 2019 — which Republicans fought vehemently against — would do a lot more to catch chronic abusers who roam amongst us. Even after passing a watered down version of Boyer’s bill, Arizona law still severely restricts reporting past abuse and protects pedophiles, not victims. I fully support adoption of Boyer’s original bill which gave past abused children to age 30 to report past abuse.
Continue reading I Stand Against Mandatory Sentencing & for Victim Rights (video)
Even before COVID19, too many Arizonans were living with food, housing and economic insecurity. Under failed Republican leadership at the state and federal levels, the pandemic rages on and increases.
For the first time in 50 years, Arizona voters have the opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Arizona Legislature and hand the leadership to the Democrats.
Hmmm … 50 years of Republican control. Is that we are #50 in so many health and wellness categories — like adverse childhood experiences?
I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Although we lived modestly in a tiny house, we always food on the table and a roof over our heads.
Both of my parents worked in unionized factories, and my Dad was a member of the United Steel Workers. My family always had union benefits like full time work, decent wages, health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, pensions, and affordable college for my brother and me.
Thousands of Arizona children don’t have these basic benefits that I grew up with.
Continue reading Too Many Arizonans Suffer from Food, Housing & Economic Insecurity (video)