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Arizona Public Safety Officials and Community Organizations Denounce Gov. Brewer's Plan to Eliminate Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections

PHOENIX, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS) is working in partnership with communities and organizations across the state to educate elected officials on the magnitude of Governor Jan Brewer's plan to eliminate the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC). The plan to close prisons for violent juveniles puts Arizona communities at risk.

"As citizens and public safety officials, we must come together to keep violent criminals where they belong -- behind bars," said Larry A. Lopez, president of AZCOPS. "Governor Brewer wants to close the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections in July and send hundreds of the most violent teenage criminals back to the communities where they committed crimes. This can't happen. By working together, we can Protect Arizona."

On Jan. 15, as part of the State Budget Package, Gov. Brewer proposed to eliminate the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections claiming it would save $67 million. The plan calls for closure of all juvenile correctional facilities by July 2010. All inmates will be sent to their home counties, putting 900 officers as well as teachers, mental health professionals and medical personnel out of work.

If Gov. Brewer's plan is successful, counties will not have resources to hold and rehabilitate the 500 juvenile offenders in the system and no staff to oversee the 600 offenders on parole. In July 2010, these worst of the worst juvenile felons -- including sex offenders, murderers, and thieves -- will be released into neighborhoods with no oversight or supervision. County juvenile detention centers are not designed or properly staffed to provide long-term incarceration.

Organizations and individuals against the Governor's plan to close ADJC includes the Arizona Sheriffs Association; County Boards of Supervisors Association; Arizona Association of Counties; Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Pima County; Sheriff Paul Babeu, Pinal County; Sheriff Don Lowery, La Paz County; Sheriff Joseph Dedman, Jr., Apache County; and AZCOPS, among others.

"As officers, our commitment is to public safety, and it is our duty to warn citizens when we see a threat, especially when we know that lives and property are at risk," added Lopez. "The state is in the worst financial crisis in recent history, but cutting public safety resources is not the solution. County taxes will skyrocket in order to duplicate what ADJC already does. This is a waste of Arizonans' tax dollars. Releasing violent prisoners without proper supervision leaves Arizona communities unprotected."

In the State Capitol, elected officials are considering dangerous changes to public policy that put law-abiding citizens in the direct path of the most violent teenage criminals. Protect Arizona is urging Arizonans to help law enforcement officers protect the communities they live and work in by calling their elected officials now and telling them to keep criminals in prison.

For more information or to contact an Arizona legislator visit www.ProtectArizona.org.

SOURCE Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs

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