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.
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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.