County Jail Q&A

Do you support the new jail and why?

County Attorney Polk supports the Yavapai County Prescott Criminal Justice Center. The county’s only existing jail is in the Verde Valley. Because 65% of the arrests in the county occur in or near Prescott, these inmates must be transported to the Prescott courthouse for their trials and court hearings. The cost to transport these prisoners is over two million dollars ($2 million) every year. Furthermore, transporting large numbers of inmates on the highways of the county and escorting them in and out of the Prescott courthouse represents a major safety and security risk for court personnel and the community. The new Criminal Justice Center, to be located adjacent to the Yavapai County Juvenile Detention Center in Prescott, will alleviate both the financial burden and the danger of the transports. The Center will be approximately 94,000 square feet and will include a 144-bed adult detention facility, two courtrooms for on-site proceedings, and a co-located mental health facility. The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office is not part of the new Center and will remain at its current downtown Prescott location.

Is the jail full of low-level offenders?

It is a myth that the jail is full of low level criminal offenders. In fact, 90%-95% of the jail inmates are felony criminal offenders. It is also a myth that the jail is full of offenders arrested for the possession of marijuana. First time offenders of possession of marijuana are rarely, if ever, booked into the Yavapai County Jail.

Do you put low level-offenders in jail?

The Yavapai County Attorney has no powers of arrest and does not put anyone in jail. The Arizona State Legislature decides what conduct is criminal, and police officers investigate and arrest for that criminal conduct. Judges from the superior and justice courts in Yavapai County set conditions of release, including bond amounts. The County Attorney prosecutes those individuals for their criminal conduct, advocating for justice for victims and appropriate consequences for their behavior.

What have you done to help reduce the jail population?

As Yavapai County Attorney, I have led the way in seeking partnerships to decriminalize mental illness and provide appropriate alternatives for those charged with low level offenses, such as Early Disposition Court, Drug Court, Veterans Court, DUI Court, Diversion and Yavapai Reentry Project. I participated with the Presiding Judge for the Yavapai County Superior Court and the Adult Probation Department to implement the Public Safety Assessment Tool (PSA), an evidence-based tool to screen those arrested for arrest to determine whether they are safe for pre-trial release.

For a full explanation of the many programs I have initiated or supported to keep our streets safe while averting offenders from jail, please see the topics listed under the “LEADERSHIP” tab.

Yavapai County Criminal Justice Center Fact Sheet

For more information about the new Criminal Justices Center, click here.