"The Maricopa Model" Shows Tough Policies Work

"The Maricopa Model" Shows Tough Policies Work

"The Maricopa Model" Shows Tough Policies Work
By Andrew Thomas, County Attorney Archive

More Prison, Fewer Illegals, Less Crime

Despite a rising population and other factors that generally drive up the crime rate, Maricopa County has experienced a dramatic decrease in both crime and illegal immigration. These clear trends are occurring county-wide, and reveal the impact of both effective collaboration among law enforcement agencies and tough and visionary prosecution policies in the County Attorney's Office.

The crime rate per 100,000 people in Maricopa County decreased 8% from 2007 to 2008 and 18% from 2004 to 2008. During this same period, the violent crime rate in Maricopa County dropped 8% and the property crime rate fell 21%. This decline occurred even though the county's population actually grew by just under 11 percent during the same period.

Between 2004 and 2008 the crime rate fell by:

32.6% in Gilbert
25.6% in Mesa
25.3% in Tempe
20.1% in Chandler
18.0% in Scottsdale
15.7% in Phoenix
15.2% in Peoria
06.3% in Glendale

This dramatic success story runs contrary to conventional wisdom among criminologists. I attribute these trends to three major factors. First, police agencies are using current technology and tactics to effectively address specific crime problems in their areas. There has also been enhanced coordination with the County Attorney's Office. One example is the identity theft protocol signed by Valley police agencies in 2005, an agreement to investigate identity theft cases that my office brokered.

Second, because of tougher policies in the County Attorney's Office, prosecutors are sending significantly more serious and repeat felons to prison. From 2004 to 2008, the number of criminals in Maricopa County sent to the Department of Corrections increased 29.3%.

Third, the joint crackdowns on illegal immigration with the Sheriff's Office have led to an unprecedented collapse in the illegal immigration population. The Center for Immigration Studies recently released a report showing that since 2007, Arizona has seen a 30% drop in its illegal immigrant population. This finding is consistent with substantial anecdotal evidence of declining illegal-immigrant populations during that same time, many of which were reported by the local media (such as declining school enrollment numbers, the shuttering of businesses that largely catered to illegal immigrants, etc.). Nationally the amount of decrease in the illegal-immigrant population was 14% according to the CIS report.

The Phoenix Business Journal analyzed recent data on illegal immigration in the Valley and, on July 30, reported: "A marked drop in Phoenix-area crime coincides with the recession and a drop in the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona."

On April 13, 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported that illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels are a driving force behind auto theft nationally, and that border cities are the hardest hit. Yet the auto-theft rate in the Valley fell by 38% between 2006 and 2008, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Since taking office, I implemented a series of policies to make certain that dangerous offenders serve serious prison time. These include:

Plead to the Lead  Implemented in 2005, this policy requires that adults charged with serious violent offenses such as first-degree murder, drive-by shooting, or sexual assault plead to the most serious crime they are charged with as part of any plea agreement or go to trial.

Dangerous Crimes Against Children Policy - Implemented in 2006, this policy requires adults who commit certain crimes against children receive substantial prison time. For cases in which the defendant faces the mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years, the plea offer must require at least 35 years in prison.

Repetitive and R.O.P. Offenders  This policy was intensified in 2007 to ensure that offenders with even one previous felony conviction go to prison, rather than receiving probation.

Gang Offenders  Plea agreements concerning gang crimes were toughened in 2008. For example, if a defendant is a documented gang member possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime as part of his participation in a criminal syndicate, prison time must be part of the plea agreement.

Illegal Immigration Crackdowns  Sheriff Joe Arpaio and I have led the nation's toughest crackdowns on illegal immigration. These have included enforcement of the state human-smuggling law against both smugglers and illegal immigrants and workplace raids and prosecutions related to the Legal Arizona Workers Act.

These policies have had a direct impact on the number of criminals Maricopa County has sent to the state prison system. In 2005, that figure was 10,733. The next year it climbed to 12,363. In 2008, that number rose further to 13, 386.

The numbers speak for themselves. Tough policies against crime and illegal immigration do work. The lesson is obvious: more time, less crime.

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1 Comment

8 years 14 weeks ago, 11:39 AM


ecaman's picture

Join Date:
Jul 2009
Payson, UT, United States
Excellent article

The three factors herein outlined are well reasoned, and well explained. The final paragraph really reinforces the story.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. (Mark Twain).
samD's picture
Posted by: samD
8 years 14 weeks ago

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