ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Matt Heinz on Crime

Democrat Matt Heinz is running for House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. We asked him some questions about crime policy.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

Incarceration is an important part of the judicial system but I would like to see as much money funneled into prevention and rehabilitation as possible. We keep filling up our prisons and building more. Take people who are addicted to meth, that is a medical problem, that’s not just a crime and it should be treated as such. It should be treated with both the disciplinary approach and people need to be actively rehabilitated and that is not happening. So I would say no to increasing funding to prisons unless they are also increasing funding for prevention and rehabilitation first.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

I don’t want to make a decision without all of the information in front of me which is what I think any responsible legislaturer should do and I’ll certainly look into that. But as a response I think that should be in control of the state.

Should we spend more on programs that provide prisoners with vocational education while they are behind bars?

Absolutely. That goes back to my previous comment about rehabilitation and therapy while incarcerated because if you keep someone incarcerated for 10 years and they just sit there doing menial labor and not much else, they haven’t been rehabilitated at all, they just haven’t been in society for 10 years and that’s actually damaging. So I think that giving them vocational training is important.

Should we look at alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders?

I think that go directly to what I was commenting about drug offenses that I see in medicine and the emergency department. Absolutely.

Should the state spend more on programs and facilities for at-risk youth?

Of course. If you invest in education and therapy and in preventive measures before these crimes happen, then you’re in a situation where you don’t really need to build more prisons.

Should the state spend more on state and local agencies to fight terrorism?

I like bringing up the topic of emergency preparedness because I don’t like what we it’s becoming. What I know about the programs we have is a little disheartening and a little scary to think of the preparedness we may or may not have.

If we had a tanker of chlorine gas overturn in Tucson, especially if it was in the middle night, there you go–we just lost tens of thousands of people. Not that I’m trying to scare everyone, but it’s really frightening to think about to emergency preparedness or a lack thereof. So yes, we need to fund that more. In terms of directly terrorism, I think that having that equipment is more promising than looking over our shoulders at every turn expecting something happen. I don’t think that makes a very productive or civil society, so I don’t think we should fear-monger but we should be prepared for anything that could happen.

Should the state have a “three-strikes” law that puts criminals behind bars for life for a third felony offense?

I think it depends on the specific offense. Whether it drug related or non-violent needs to be taken into account.

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