Pima County Attorney to resume charging minor drug offenses

KMSB News 9-10 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 2:29 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday, March 9, it will resume filing charges against people arrested on minor drug charges and direct those people into the pre-indictment STEPS drug court.

The Attorney’s Office said this comes after an attempt to drive down the jail population failed to make a significant difference.

County Attorney Laura Conover issued a memorandum to area law enforcement in December, saying that minor drug offenders should not be taken to the jail because she would decline to prosecute them.

The Attorney’s Office said the purpose was to prevent those suffering from substances use disorder from being taken to jail during a pandemic. However, officials said vulnerable people were still being taken to jail in cramped conditions before PCAO deputy prosecutors could dismiss their charges. This effort had minimal effect on the jail population.

“The jail population was at 1,671 on December 14, 2021 – the day of my memo – and was at 1,673 as I draft this,” Conover wrote in a memorandum to area chiefs of police. “This isn’t an anomaly; this has been a consistent number for the jail population, as I watched it on a daily basis.”

“The jail population has been stagnant. No further reduction can be attributed to my memo,” she wrote. “Thus, my plan for keeping people from involuntary crowding as a public health risk was undermined.”

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