Study after study has shown a clear, undeniable link between less education and higher incarceration rates. In spite of this, the Arizona State Legislature has spent the past few sessions gutting $2 billion from our community schools and handing out lucrative private prison contracts to legislative cronies.

What does it say about our priorities that one in 170 Arizonans are currently behind bars while we rank third-to-last in education funding? I’ll tell you in no uncertain terms: It means we’re treating the symptom, not the disease.

As your state representative, I will address this upside-down prioritization of punishment versus potential. I’ll work tirelessly to make sure our schools are properly funded, that our teachers aren’t trying to reach 40 students at once, and that our children have the best chance possible to succeed and to avoid becoming another prison statistic.

The American justice system is a model for the world, and our rehabilitative prison system one that can certainly do some good. But there is no excuse for constructing 500 new, potentially unnecessary maximum-security prison beds in Arizona that will cost taxpayers $50 million while our local schools hemorrhage from under funding.

We need to address the causes of crime, not the symptoms.

And the only way to do that is to recognize that strong schools today mean a stronger, safer Arizona tomorrow.

Corey Harris

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