Republican Sharon Collins, who is one four candidates in the GOP primary for two open Arizona House of Representatives seats in Legislative District 30, answers a few questions on crime policies.
Should we increase state funding for prison construction?
I’ve heard that they (the Legislature) are spending a lot of money on prison construction. So, I would have to look at the cost versus building new prisons. No one wants a prison in their background so, that’s probably the biggest question. I would have to look at the cost of out-of-state versus building a new one.
Should we have more contracts with private prisons?
That’s what we’re doing now with the outside prisons. I think I would have to look at the cost savings versus building a new prison.
Should we spend more on program that provide prisoners with vocational education while they are behind bars?
Someone who is in a prison just sitting around watching TV or going out in the courtyard doing exercises should have access to a library and a computer, unless they’re on death row or in solitary confinement. One of the things that I’ve seen work is action in ministries. I’m supportive of that.
Should we look at alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders?
Yes, that would have to be looked at for each case specifically.
Do you support “hate crimes” legislation that increases penalties for crimes based on race, ethnic background, religious belief, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation?
I’ve never supported that; I’ve always supported the law. If someone has done something bad like destroying property or hurt someone, they should just fall under the law and get the max. It’s very hard to prove that also.
Should the state spend more on programs and facilities for at-risk youth?
I would have to look at that, but of course I would most likely support that. Just like in education, you’ve got to start when they are young. You put a buck in, just like with pre-school, and you are going to get ten bucks out.
Should the state spend more on state and local agencies to fight terrorism?
I have no idea. I look at the homeland security website and they’ve got all these non-profit grants you can get. I thought I would apply for one to help out the border schools because they are having such a problem with drug smuggling. They’ve got a lot of money; maybe we can get some of it.
Should the state have a “three-strikes” law that puts criminals behind bars for life for a third felony offense?
I think that’s a hard one because I’m not a supporter of the death penalty. Three strikes and you’re out for the rest of your life: I think it would have to be a case by case decision. I don’t know whether I could agree to something so harsh. I mean, things happen to people. Now, I’ve heard one study say that it works because usually it’s that population of the people that are really high-end criminals that are put behind bars. But, I’m not so sure of that. I would say right now.