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January 29, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Adult Probation Program

  |   Video
  • A look at recent successes within Arizona’s Adult Probation Program with Kathy Waters, director of the Division of Adult Probation Services for the Arizona Supreme Court. State Schools Chief John Huppenthal, the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee who sponsored the probation-reform bill, gives his take on the issue.
  • Kathy Waters - Director of the Division of Adult Probation Services, Arizona Supreme Court
  • John Huppenthal - State Schools Chief and Chairman, State Senate Judiciary Committee
Category: Government   |   Keywords: adult, probation, program, supreme court, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Five years ago state lawmakers passed legislation to reform Arizona's adult probation system. The safe communities act was designed to reduce the number of probationers that return to prison. With us is Cathy Waters Director of the Adult Probation Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court, and State Schools Chief John Huppenthal; who, as chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee sponsored the probation reform legislation we're talking about today, thank you for joining us.

Both: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: The problem of probation failures in Arizona, how serious was it? What was addressed?

Cathy Waters: It was more serious than we would want it to be. Our success rate on standard probation was probably around 60% success rate. Our most serious offenders, the IPS (Intensive Probation), less than 50% of those were successful on probation. We wanted to address, what could we do to help people be more successful under probation supervision.

Ted Simons: Were those numbers historically at that level? Were they increasing?

Cathy Waters: We were continuing to see, especially the more serious offenders.

Ted Simons: Changing the system, what did you look at?

John Huppenthal: I got this report from the Pew Foundation and crumpled it up and threw the in the garbage can. My assistant literally retrieved it from the garbage can and we went over it. The thing that caught me was the setting of very high standards, drug free, current on restitution, and absolutely current on community service. By establishing that very high standard, 100% drug free, current restitution and community service, it seemed that you would establish this high standard of conduct. And you could change their whole way of thinking and way of life and get greater success. So then I sponsored the bill.

Ted Simons: Weren't incentives involved? It's one thing say do this. It's another thing to get the carrot out in front.

John Huppenthal: For every month they get a month reduced on probation.

John Huppenthal: Almost 100% of failures occur during the first months of probation. It's something that has no value at the tail end and great value at the beginning. I thought this is a homerun, we want to do this.
Ted Simons: Did it make sense when it came down?

Cathy Waters: Yes. At the same time we were training probation officers based on research, what we call evidence-based practices. We were using a validated risk assessment to determine the high, medium and low-risk offenders. Who we needed to focus on and put or resources towards that, helped them to be more successful while on probation. By doing that and then also using other principles of evidence-based practice with the treatment, and helping to establish programs that help change their behavior, helping them be pro social and productive citizens, also it mirrored and fell very well into the incentives base of the Safe Communities Act.

John Huppenthal: I think the policy is one thing. But if you don't have execution -- and the courts have done a great job of executing, connecting probationers to church and a job and to their families in a way that works, and getting them to stay out of triggers for drug abuse. Then training them on values. Most of these probationers have been in families where respected adults have told them it's okay to steal or commit violence. Another adult comes in in a trained way and says, it's not okay to steal, it's not okay to commit violence. Techniques they execute are having results. We're talking 1200 reduced felonies. 1200 fewer murders, rapes, robberies, this is incredible. And at a lower cost, not a higher cost to the taxpayers.

Cathy Waters: We saw significant differences very quickly. Chief Justice Ruth McGregor had spoken to the legislature when we started using evidence-based practice, as well, and said, we will attempt to reduce the revocations to prison and new felonies by persons on probation. She said try to hit at least 5% in that first year. By numbers we're well on 12%. It's continued to build the success built as we've trained our probation officers to use these techniques. To really put our resources on the right offenders and help them to become proactive, based on other performance incentives, as well. Positive reinforcement to them, as well, throughout.

Ted Simons: And the performance incentives, I want to get back to that, as well. Incentives to the probationers with time off for complying, but the departments, as well -- correct me if I'm wrong, they were offered part of the budget savings if they could show results.

John Huppenthal: They were, and it was an offer that was made and being a part of the legislature, I have some guilt because it was an offer that was reneged on. Once they achieved the performance, they didn't get the money. That has consequences to the whole feedback loop. The thing the legislature needs to be aware of, these reduced revocations back to prison, that's $120 million less expense a year in the prison system. It's costing us $40,000 a year per inmate. This was 1200 fewer inmates going into the system. It's huge.

Ted Simons: That particular incentive didn't make it through, huh?

John Huppenthal: No, it was a little bit of a -- you know, there were a lot of things that didn't make it through the budget process.

Cathy Waters: I think, if anything, we established tremendous credibility, not only in Arizona with what probation was doing, our juvenile departments are modeling some of the same practices as far as evidence-based practices. We get calls from all over the country saying these numbers cannot be real.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the numbers. A 42% drop of revocations from 2008 to 2012. Revocations to prison down 44%. Revocations to jail down 12%. As far as a decrease in new felony convictions, down for the first three years. Do we know why? Fiscal year '11 there was an increase. Any reason for that?

John Huppenthal: I was worried about the legislature not following through on its promise and there was a little bit of a let-down by people. I think also, there's no policy that's going to be a straight downward slide. It's well within -- it's still at the terminal year, still over 40% reduction, at the terminal year 1200 fewer felonies.

Cathy Waters: Why we were so excited, when I go out and do the training, not only for the probation department but for the judges and prosecutors and public defenders -- we've blitzed the state with all of our training and the results that you can get, it was obvious that just it was a very big culture change in how we did business. So our numbers were better. We started seeing immediate results. The bigger part of that I think is you have safer communities, because of those 12 hundred less felonies by persons on probation. They are successful but you have that many less victims.

Ted Simons: But was there push-back initially on that culture change?

John Huppenthal: It was war getting this through the legislature.

Ted Simons: But what about the other aspects of the probation community, if you will?

Cathy Waters: No, it really was. We had full support of the 15 chief probation officers in the state, and they were all on board, they knew what the research said. They knew we could get those results. It was training, changing the way we did business and it was successful. The results spoke for themselves.

Ted Simons: Now, what’s the deal with the legislature?
John Huppenthal: There is a sense any time you're reducing anything you're being soft on crime. We were reducing the length of probation, but for perfect behavior. That's what I was able to use as a hammer. We know this is going to reduce crime and protect families. We were making a prediction based on John Huppenthal saying, this is good policy. It's important too to let people know my prediction was correct, and the probation department's prediction was correct. You can do complex policy and get great results for families.

Ted Simons: Where does adult probation in Arizona go from here?

Cathy Waters: We continue to refine and make sure we have the same success, that we ton I. our evidence-based practices using our assessment, targeting the right offenders, developing the programs. The treatment programs, and instilling the right programs that really address their issues is very, very important. We're working on that program development continually.

John Huppenthal: I think some of the -- not only in this case but now we think the legislature needs to be thinking about a number of policies in a more complex fashion. Through policy we were able to save many tens of millions of dollars and many lives. They need to think about other areas, our prisons, 15%, they need to be thinking about that in terms of the standards they apply by which somebody reduces a prison sentence. There's a whole lot we know about prison where we can use these policies to do great things for society in that area, too.

Ted Simons: We have to stop right there.

Paying for Basic Needs

  |   Video
  • Cynthia Zwick, Executive Director of the Arizona Community Action Association, talks about a new report showing that nearly 1 in every 3 working families in Arizona doesn’t earn enough money to pay for basic necessities.
  • Cynthia Zwick - Executive Director, Arizona Community Action Association
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: economy, community, basic, needs, paying, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A significant number of working families in Arizona are unable to pay basic living expenses. That's from a recent report by the Working Poor Families Project. I spoke with Cynthia Zwick, the executive director of the Arizona Community Action Association. Thanks for joining us tonight on "Arizona Horizon."

Cynthia Zwick: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What is Working Poor Families Project?

Cynthia Zwick: It's a research group, a nonprofit research group out of Washington, D.C., that looks into the state of working families across the country.

Ted Simons: And the report, low working income families, the growing economic gap, what did the report look at?

Cynthia Zwick: It looked at the state of affairs for low-income working families. Here in Arizona was mentioned, as well. While the economy is kind of turning around or beginning to turn around, the plight of lower income working families is not turning around. In fact, they are starting to struggle more than we have seen them struggle in a while.

Ted Simons: I'm going to get to the reasons in a second. What defines a low-income working family?

Cynthia Zwick: Working poor is considered someone living at 200% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four it is about $46,000 a year, for an individual about $22,000 a year.

Ted Simons: And how many such families do we see here in Arizona?

Cynthia Zwick: Interestingly, about four out of 10 families in Arizona fall into that category.

Ted Simons: Has that number gone up, down, sideways?

Cynthia Zwick: Unfortunately it's going up and continues to increase. What we've seen is since recession there were about six million people across the country that lost their jobs. Of that number, about half of them are re-employed today. Of the 50% re-employed, half of them are employed in jobs where they were making equal or more than they were making when they lost their jobs initially. We have a huge number of people struggling to find employment. The jobs they are finding are not paying them well, and they cannot sustain their families and pay their bills on the amount they are earning.

Ted Simons: What is being done to lessen the gap?

Cynthia Zwick: We're looking at solutions in the public policy arena, advocacy solutions. We're look to get the federal government and Congress to not reduce funding any further than they have already done, and we're asking them to restore funding to some of the safety net programs. Locally we're looking to the legislature to increase funding where possible and support these families while they are making a transition from the working poor status into a more sustainable position.

Ted Simons: So one in five Arizonans below the poverty level?

Cynthia Zwick: That's right. We're at 19% poverty rate here in Arizona. It's the fifth highest in the country. So we're really struggling at this point to help families get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.

Ted Simons: Are there areas of the state hit harder than others?

Cynthia Zwick: There are. Some of the very rural communities like Apache County, Navajo County, are very hard hit with poverty. And then pockets of areas like Douglas, Arizona, Guadalupe, that seem to struggle more than others.

Ted Simons: Because of mostly immigration, these sorts of things?

Cynthia Zwick: Some of it is probably immigration. There just aren't as many opportunities for employment. It tends to be lower wage, service industry employees. Many of the higher-paid positions tend to be in more of the urban settings. It's a little more difficult to find a job where you can sustain your family.

Ted Simons: And again, what is being done in terms of lifting these areas out of poverty?

Cynthia Zwick: Well, that's a good question. I don't know that there's a lot being done today in some of those really rural areas. You see some construction work and some other kinds of service industries arising, but not a lot happening in the very rural areas right now. There's more happening in the local community. Even here, families are continuing to struggle because the wages are not high enough to sustain families. They don't have benefits available to them as many people do. If a child gets sick, they don't have vacation time to take care of that child. They may lose their position if they take the time off. They are in a very difficult situation.

Ted Simons: There is a line of reasoning that says the best way out of the situation is to simply get more jobs going. And to get more jobs going, you've got to free up in terms of regulation and taxes. Which would mean less in the way of benefits. How do you respond to that?

Cynthia Zwick: I think it's a complicated issue. Clearly we need more jobs in the community. But we need jobs that are higher paying jobs, which takes investments in education, throughout the communities. So the jobs that we have here today tend to be lower wage jobs. There are a large number of people that are living and working in those positions. So not only do we need more jobs, we need jobs that pay higher wages, so families can ultimately sustain themselves.

Ted Simons: And to get those jobs? You have to attract those businesses.

Cynthia Zwick: Absolutely. I think it all gets back to education and what the community support is for families who do fall into trouble. We've heard stories about employers who, when coming to Arizona, asked about the social service, the basic needs and the safety net, what the support is for families in case they get into trouble or they have disabled children. You know, struggles that families tend to face. They want to know what the support is like here. And it's weak at the moment, so I think we need to strengthen all levels of the safety net before we can continue to attract employers.

Ted Simons: You're with the Arizona community action association. Talk to us about that group.

Cynthia Zwick: We're a statewide organization that supports health and human services organizations. We are engaged in advocacy, education, public policy, in order to help families like these working poor get the tools they need to become self-sufficient.

Ted Simons: I know the public-rivate partnership is considered one of the solutions for your group.

Cynthia Zwick: Well, you know, nonprofits around the state including Arizona community action association partner with private enterprise all the time, on employment initiatives, education and skills initiatives, working to help sustain families as they work through the system. So we also work with government agencies and provide that hands-on support families need to get back on their feet.

Ted Simons: And solutions to poverty through research, as well.

Cynthia Zwick: Yeah, absolutely. Part of our role is to encourage people to understand what's going on. Nobody wakes up one day and says, I think I'm going to be poor today. We want people to really understand how people end up in this state, what it takes to help them out, and then help us take the steps to ensure that the policies and tools are there and available for families.

Ted Simons: And again, the idea isn't so much that you've concentrated on one aspect. The idea of getting more jobs here has to be looked at in a way that is not only business friendly, but working poor friendly, as well.

Cynthia Zwick: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Okay. Final question: What do you want people to take from the report?

Cynthia Zwick: We want them to take a couple things. We want them to know the situation so people can be aware and understand what the situation is for so many people living in Arizona. We want people to understand there is a need for ongoing support through some of the federal and State programs. And that there are -- you know, what we would like to see in Arizona are jobs that pay a liveable wage, jobs that support a family and allow them to sustain their basic needs on an ongoing basis.

Ted Simons: Getting much response from the report?

Cynthia Zwick: We're getting some great response, and it is starting to raise awareness about the plight of some of the working poor.

Ted Simons: Where can we find this report or the information from the report?

Cynthia Zwick: You can certainly find the information on our website,, Arizona Community Action Association.

Ted Simons: Very good, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Cynthia Zwick: Thank you, Ted.

Phoenix Coyotes update

  |   Video
  • A group looking to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep the team in Glendale has until the end of January to close the deal. Mike Sunnucks, with the Phoenix Business Journal, gives an update on the deal.
  • Mike Sunnucks - Phoenix Business Journal
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: coyotes, phoenix, glendale, update, deal, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. A group looking to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep the team in Glendale has until the end of the month to close the deal. Here with an update is Mike Sunnucks. The purchase of the team has to be announced this week, doesn't it?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, Graham Jameson's investment group's deal runs out January 31st. After that the deal is kind of void, I guess, and I don't think the City has an appetite to do another deal. There is a new Mayor, Jerry Weiers, and they have gone through this probably seven times, the city. I think this is it. He's got to do it by Thursday.

Ted Simons: Again, not necessarily the NHL with the deadline, it's the City of Glendale. You mentioned it sounds like they are not in any mood to extend any deadlines.

Mike Sunnucks: They have done different deals and worked on this for a while. Jameson has been pursuing the team since 2011. He has the blessing of the NHL and there are people out there that are optimistic he will be able to get it done tomorrow or Thursday. But the city is not going kick the can anymore. If he can't do it, he's got the blessing of the NHL, probably gotten help there in trying to find people to invest. He's passed the hat around here and in Canada. He's gone after all kinds of different investors. If he can't get it done, I don't know who can.

Ted Simons: Is this a possible scenario: If he can't keep the team in Glendale, he could get it done to find a new home somewhere else? He could still be the owner of the whatever-they-are Coyotes, just not in Phoenix?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, that is a possibility after the Glendale deadline is done and then he could possibly look at Seattle or Quebec City. It's more likely there's ownership groups in those cities trying to get a deal done, if Jameson doesn't. The thing with Jameson's deal, he's needed that $300 million on 20 years from the Glendale City to get this done, to be able to get the financing. It's always kind of hinged on that. If he can't get it done with Glendale, somebody else will come in and buy it from another market.

Ted Simons: There is some prevailing wisdom that if you have the people ready to buy and you are ready to buy, you should have purchased something by now. Why is this taking so long?

Mike Sunnucks: That's been the question throughout this process. You'd think if he had the money, which people say he does, it would have been done. There's due diligence, people have come in and out of the deal. There are a lot of different partners, those checking the financing. There's been speculation how much say and decision-making the investors will get in the deal, versus Jameson, a team executive. I'm sure he will be part owner, but maybe not the majority owner. Obviously the NHL had the lockout and they were dealing with that. So maybe at the league level they wanted to get the lockout out of the way, have the new CBA in place so people looking to finance kind of knew the parameters. There are some logical reasons as to why it would take so long.

Ted Simons: Quickly again, we're talking $300 million over 20 years, the deal with Glendale. $15 million a year guaranteed for, what, operating the arena and parking and basically being the team owner.

Mike Sunnucks: He gets to run the arena. That kind of fits into some of the deal. People say it's a little high, but certainly helps him to get the deal done. He'll get the revenue from parking and other revenue from concerts and special events.

Ted Simons: If Thursday comes and goes or the announcement Thursday is, I tried, I just couldn't do it, how long before that team could be adios?

Mike Sunnucks: I think they would probably play out the season and see how things go. You saw this in Atlanta, who moved to Winnipeg a couple seasons ago. They kind of played out the string, looked for a last-second lone ranger to come in and buy. But the NHL was working on a deal with the folks in Winnipeg to do that. If Jameson doesn't buy the team, you'll probably see the NHL starting to work privately with folks in Seattle or Quebec City most likely and try forge a deal there. I don't think anybody else is going to step forward.

Ted Simons: What about Indian reservations here in town? What about a group that could say, let's try to retrofit the America West Arena, or whatever they are calling it these days, there is a possibility the team could stay in the Valley, just not Glendale?

Mike Sunnucks: There's talk about that, obviously Glendale would fight that. They have put a lot on the line for this. They have spent a lot of public money and really gone to bat for this. The preference obviously is to stay in Glendale. There is talk that maybe he would build an arena on the Salt River or downtown. That's less likely. The money put forward seems to be the linchpin keeping him here. I don't know if other deals in this market can match that. If the financing can't work in Glendale, can it work in other places without that $300 million?

Ted Simons: You're saying there are relatively good indications that they will get the deal done.

Mike Sunnucks: People are saying he's got the money, they are going to do it. The flip side, why hasn't the deal gotten done. Him and the league continue to try to get a deal done. I think it could happen.

Ted Simons: Okay. It has to happen, it can't be one of these wishy-washy sort of -- I'm just waiting on this one last investor -- you got it or you don't.

Mike Sunnucks: I think that's where the City is at, especially the new mayor, and the new council. He's had since November when they passed this. People thought maybe before the end of the year, before the new council took office January 15th. Now we're at the latest deadline.

Ted Simons: We'll see what happens, Mike.

Mike Sunnucks: Thanks a lot.