ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Andrea Dalessandro on Crime

Democrat Andrea Dalessandro is facing Republicans Frank Antenori and David Gowan in the race for two House of Representatives seats in Legislative District 30. We asked her some questions about crime.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

I wish that we would refocus. Our prison budget is going out-of-sight compared to what it was a few years ago. We need to look at some of sentencing laws for minor crimes and we need to give them opportunities for education. I’m also concerned about first-time juvenile drug offenders. I don’t want them to become career prison residents. I would rather see them have increased opportunity and be productive. I think it’s sad that we are spending more money on inmates in prison, than we are spending on youth for public education.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

No, because privatization is great in theory, but if there is a profit motive, I don’t think it’s a good thing. People still have rights and they need to be treated humanely with proper food and facilities. I also think that education should be encouraged more in prisons, because if it isn’t there, they just return to a life of violence.
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 think it’s a basic civil right and hate crimes are just evil. It doesn’t speak well of society if they tolerate that. Often it leads to more violence.

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

Definitely. One of the charities that I have contributed to is Youth On Their Own, for young people that wind up homeless to keep them in school. Whenever I see a friend or a public figure that is supporting that, I always feel a connection with them. Education is the answer, whether it’s prisons, jobs or economic development–education across the board.

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

Well, I’m originally from New Jersey, so I’ve had a closer look at terrorism than most people. Everywhere in New Jersey where there was a train station, there were memorials for men and women that were killed in the World Trade Centers. My sister was actually getting off the train when the first plane hit. I’m not sure that Arizona is on the target list, although any place could have an attack. I think that preparedness is important, not just for terrorism, but for flooding and droughts and global warming. Once something happens, it’s too late. I’d like to see an integration with the police and the first responders–whether it’s state, county or local–to have better communication systems. When the police man was killed in Tucson, there wasn’t good communication and different counties couldn’t speak to one another. I know that was an issue in 9-11 also. So, at the minimum, better communication among different levels of the government –the federal government too.

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

We have a pretty broad definition of felonies here, so I’d say no. They need to look at it and see what it is. If someone does something that’s a minor felony, that doesn’t seem fair. Naturally murderers and rapist are in a different category, and that should be the rule for them.

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