In a recent opinion piece published in a Southern California newspaper, Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed Californians moving to Arizona, citing the “burdensome policies that are driving businesses away” from the Golden State.
Ducey painted a flattering picture of Arizona as a place of small government and big innovation. But he left something out: Californians, and anyone moving to Arizona, should know that its law enforcement makes baseless arrests, violates people’s due process rights, commits human rights violations against people in custody — and does so with impunity because it faces no consequences.
Ducey claims skyrocketing costs in California have pushed the American dream out of reach for far too many. But in Arizona, 17-year-old Anthony Cano, 28-year-old Dion Johnson, and 14-year-old Antonio Arce were all shot and killed by police, robbed of the chance to reach their dreams. According to a recent study from the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Public Health, Arizona has the 4th highest rate of fatal police shootings in the nation. Black people and other people of color live in continued fear of police who shoot and kill with no consequence.
What’s Ducey’s plan to stop police violence?
Ducey claims California’s elected leaders should be focused on “more important things” than political correctness. Yet he stayed silent as the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office pursued unjust prosecutions against its political critics. A recent investigation from ABC 15 revealed that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office worked with police to present exaggerations and lies to a grand jury to justify the arrests of Black Lives Matter protesters.
What’s Ducey’s plan to ensure people can exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of arrest or prosecution?
Ducey claims Arizona cares about fiscal responsibility, but the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry was just hit with a $1.1 million fine after the state prisons were held in contempt of court for the second time. The order stems from an ACLU lawsuit against the state for failing to provide even the most basic health care to people in prison. In a recent order, a federal judge sternly urged the state to, “reexamine whether the six years of litigation represent a wise use of resources going forward.”
What’s Ducey’s plan to hold the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry accountable for these human rights violations and misuse of taxpayer funds?
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there are bills currently being considered by legislators that would allow people in prison to earn their way to an earlier release date (House Bill 2713), require the Corrections Department to treat people in prison with dignity by providing unrestricted access to menstrual products (House Bill 2261) and once again allow judges the discretion to impose fairer sentences (House Bill 2673).
There are also bills that would continue Arizona’s sordid history of giving police and prosecutors unchecked power to violate people’s constitutional rights with impunity. House Bill 2309 would threaten everyone who practices their First Amendment right to protest with felony charges if anyone at that protest damages property or commits violence.
If Gov. Ducey really wants his legacy to be one that’s made Arizona “the best place in the nation to get an education, raise a family, start and scale a business and retire,” he needs to consider the needs of all Arizonans, including Black people, Latino people and all marginalized communities. He should not only support criminal legal reform bills, but support bills that will allow our communities to thrive with equitable access to economic stability, health care, and quality education. He should make it clear to state representatives and senators that they must stop introducing and supporting bad bills that will shield law enforcement from much-needed accountability.
Here’s what people considering a move to Arizona should really know. First, know your rights. Know that we have the 4th highest incarceration rate in the nation and impose prison sentences longer than the national average. Know that Arizona spends more tax dollars on maintaining its prison system than on higher education, child safety and economic security. Finally, be assured there is a movement here led by Black, Brown and working-class Arizonans who have been organizing for decades to protect their communities and to change Arizona’s harsh and punitive culture once and for all. We welcome you to join our fight.