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Pima County Attorney: Low-level drug offenders won't face charges

Posted at 1:31 PM, Dec 14, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Attorney's Office will no longer charge people arrested for drug possession, paraphernalia or other personal-use incidents.

The move, announced Tuesday, is meant to prevent transporting suspects facing minor drug charges to Pima County Jail. It comes after news broke that Pima County would fire hundreds of corrections officers who refuse to be vaccinated.

I can't say that I know what the number will be come January," Pima County Attorney Laura Conover said. "But it's certainly something that's weighing on all of our minds"

Conover said that vaccine hesitancy is also a cause for concern.

"A sizeable percentage of [society] has expressed disinterest in the vaccine, depriving us of the herd immunity that would have put this virus behind us," Conover wrote in a memorandum to law enforcement officials. "Covid is now spreading inside the jail, putting people there at risk. The health and safety of our community are paramount."

Suspects facing felony charges in addition to minor drug charges will still face charges.

The policy will be in effect for at least 60 days before it's reviewed again.

Conover directed law enforcement to deflect drug offenders into treatment programs. Conover said in the memo that PCAO is ready to set up emergency deflection training for agencies.

"We know that jail won't help anything whatsoever," Conover said "They'll just come out and be untreated and subject to the disorder."

Conover added that the general public should not be concerned.

"We are doing this in a very responsible way," Conover said. "We are talking about completely non-violent simple drug possession."