TUCSON, ARIZONA – December 14, 2021 – Pima County Attorney Laura Conover notified Southern Arizona law enforcement officials today of new charging policies intended to protect both Pima County jail employees and people who are detained against the surging threat of Covid.
Effective immediately, the Pima County Attorney’s Office will decline to charge people arrested for simple drug possession, paraphernalia, or related personal-use incidents, in order to prevent transporting them to the Pima County jail and risking their health, the health of jail staff, and the health of the interior jail population.
“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.”
This charging policy decision, similar to one issued by former Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall in March 2020, does not apply to people who have been arrested for both simple possession and an additional felony offense (for example, burglary and possession). The policy will be reviewed in 60 days.
“In the meantime,” Conover’s memorandum advised, “your agencies should deflect people to drug treatment. CODAC is available 24/7/365. The Crisis Response Center (CRC) is just minutes from the jail and equally accessible… As I have indicated many times, I am ready to set up emergency deflection training for your agencies. Consider this an option during this time.”