Architects have been lobbying for changes to Arizona’s prison system in an attempt to reduce overcrowding, the state’s highest-ranking architect and the state of Arizona’s highest elected official said.
“We are very much a prisoner-centric profession,” said Michael Azzopardi, president of the Arizona Institute of Architects, a nonprofit that advocates for the profession.
“We’re not interested in reducing the size of prisons.
It’s the opposite.”
Azzopardis union said last year that a bill seeking to reduce the prison population would have “severely reduced the number of inmates and the number who are in and out of prison.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jason Holsinger, said last month that he hoped to introduce legislation that would allow architects to build and operate prisons.
Azzogni, a partner at the architectural firm, said he would not be able to offer an opinion on the legislation, which was introduced in the Arizona House and is currently on the Senate’s desk.
But he did say that he was disappointed that the bill is being promoted as a way to reduce prison overcrowding.
“It’s a little bit disappointing to me that architects are trying to push something that they are not really interested in, because the reality is it’s just not the kind of thing that’s going to get you anywhere,” Azzognis told The Jerusalem Report, an online publication.
The Arizona architect has been involved in the prison building debate for several years, helping to draft a proposal to the state to allow architects and contractors to build prisons, a move that sparked outrage from inmates and other inmates.
A bill to allow inmates to build private prisons in Arizona would allow them to build in a space that is “within the same facility as the prison,” said Azzocopi, who was involved in drafting the proposal.
The architects group and the Arizona Prison Architect’s Association, which represents architects and construction companies, said the proposal would help the state reduce its prison population.
A state representative from the Arizona Republic wrote last year in a letter to the governor that architects could build private facilities in the state, and the bill has been referred to the Arizona Legislature’s Committee on Public Safety.
“I believe the bill will reduce the number and size of private prisons, thereby helping Arizona reduce its current prison population,” Aizopardi wrote.
The bill’s sponsors in the Legislature have since been told that the proposal is not likely to be considered, Azzoglio said.
The bill has already been referred back to the Committee on Judiciary, he said.
A statement from the Senate Committee on Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which is responsible for legislation related to the prison, did not respond to a request for comment.
The prison building bill was introduced as part of the 2017-2018 budget.
It was first proposed in April by Republican state Sen. Joe Keller, a former sheriff, who said the state needs to reduce its incarceration rate and save money on prison construction and maintenance.
Keller said the bill was designed to “increase the amount of time individuals spend in prison” and increase the number inmates who are incarcerated.
A number of architects, including Azzocheres, said they are concerned about the bill.
“I’m not a big fan of private prison,” Aizzopardi said.
“But if you’re going to have private prisons and you’re trying to save money, you’re not going to be able.”