April 27, 2020 – In recent weeks, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has executed a historic effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In addition to transitioning nearly 700 employees to a telework force, this office has taken great strides to reduce the number of those who must interact with the criminal justice system during the pandemic,” stated Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. “However, this community can be sure these efforts were executed with public safety as the office’s top priority and those who committed crimes during this time will be held accountable when it is safe and prudent to do so.”
According to information released by Sheriff Paul Penzone on April 24, there were 5306 inmates housed in county jail facilities. Prior to COVID-19, the average daily population was approximately 7500. This reduction in inmate population can be attributed to several factors, however, a massive effort by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has ensured that it was done in a thoughtful and responsible manner.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Early on, County Attorney Adel directed prosecutors to focus on in-custody defendants when filing cases. Submissions by law enforcement to MCAO were assessed on a case by case basis, and prioritized by the nature of the crime, the criminal history of an offender, and when possible input from victims. Attorneys were then instructed to balance this information with the need to reduce the spread the COVID-19.*
*Cases submitted by law enforcement that are not filed during the pandemic are being reviewed. Cases where prosecution is appropriate will be filed at a later date.
From April 6 to April 24,MCAO filed 342 cases to ensure the community would be protected from those who sought to do harm. During this time frame, an example of cases charged include:
Examples of Crimes
Murder, Attempted Murder
Armed Robbery, Sex Crimes, Crimes Against Children, Kidnapping
Aggravated Assault, Theft of Means of Transportation
Misconduct Involving Weapons, Forgery, Robbery, Arson, Child Abuse
Stalking, Aggravated Assault, Sexual Indecency
Criminal Trespass, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct
DUI’s, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Disorderly Conduct
*Many of these cases were filed due to statute of limitations issues and/or the person was held on more serious charges and the charges were addressed together in an effort to resolve cases.
MCAO also worked with the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office to release low-level offenders being held on low bonds who did not possess a risk to the community. This resulted in the possible release of 56 individuals.
A number of defendants sought “Modification of Release Conditions” from the courts, and when appropriate, prosecutors did not oppose the motion.
For those already convicted of a crime, MCAO worked with Maricopa County Adult Probation and Superior Court to allow approximately 100 inmates housed in Maricopa County Jails to remain at home when “Work Furlough” and “Work Release” programs were suspended.