GOP legislator pushes bill to relieve prison crowding

By RYAN VAN VELZER
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - A Republican state senator is pushing a bill to ease crowding in Arizona prisons by releasing thousands of non-violent prisoners early.

Sen. Steve Pearce's Senate Bill 1390 would expand an existing Department of Corrections program to help prisoners transition into daily life with services including counseling, case management and substance abuse treatment.

The bill seeks to place at least 3,500 prisoners annually into the three-month-long transition program.

The legislation is being offered at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey is pushing for a new 3,000-bed prison.

Pierce said his bill would mean the state could avoid having to build another prison, save money on expenses and reduce the rate of return offenders.

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