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Arizona's prison population declines by 11% during pandemic

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Posted at 11:55 AM, Feb 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-13 13:55:36-05

PHOENIX (AP) — The number of inmates in Arizona's prisons has declined 11% since the start of pandemic.

The decrease reflects a slowdown in the state's court system that has held far fewer criminal jury trials over the last year as it took steps to prevent the coronavirus from spreading at courthouses.

Corrections officials say they are seeing fewer sentenced inmates being sent to prison from counties and fewer revocations of probation and community-supervision releases that would send people back behind bars.

Defense lawyers say defendants are reluctant to accept plea offers out of fear that they might be exposed to COVID-19 if they were sentenced to prison.