It is a measure being pushed forward with the best of intentions. The goal is to curb Arizona’s growing opioid crisis, which has resulted in the tragic loss of so many young lives across the state.
The bill is called House Bill 2241, and although it is intended to help address a serious problem, it would only fuel an expanding epidemic in Arizona.
HB 2241 would put in place what are known as “mandatory minimums.” These laws dictate that if an individual is accused of a crime, there is a mandatory period of incarceration attached to their sentence, and the circumstances surrounding the crime become irrelevant.
The intent is to frighten drug dealers from selling their drugs. But the truth is, mandatory minimums only make the problem worse. There are a variety reasons that this policy has failed in the past and will continue to exacerbate the opioid problem here in Arizona.
The first problem is the data has shown these policies fail to address the underlying issue: finding a long term solution to the rise in opioid deaths. Where there is desperation and poverty, there is always someone willing to take a high risk to make ends meet.
The second problem is this policy unintentionally sweeps up addicts who are in need of help. Often times, the only way for addicts to support their habits is to sell drugs themselves. These are people who are in desperate need of rehabilitation, not severe punishment.
Finally, mandatory minimums will only cost taxpayers more while needlessly wasting the lives of young people and failing to solve the root problem. Putting more people behind bars won’t stop the influx of dangerous drugs in our neighborhoods. But realistic approaches to recovery could.
If Arizona lawmakers want to address our state’s opioid crisis, they should focus on improving rehabilitation and treatment for addicts, not handing down extended sentences that won’t solve the problem.
We are calling on Senator Kate Brophy McGee, Senator Karen Fann, Senator Frank Pratt, Senator Judy Burges, and Senator Warren Petersen to oppose this measure and find real solutions to our state’s opioid problem. Click here to join us in calling on these leaders to make the right decisions when it comes to dealing with Arizona’s opioid crisis.