In the first ten years under the new federal guidelines, from 1987 to 1997, the federal imprisonment rate increased by 119 %. There is good reason to conclude that the federal sentencing guidelines, in combination with congressional mandatory penalties, ushered in an era of deliberately engineered increases in punitive severity, and shifted gears in federal imprisonment from a slow-growth pace to a fast-growth pace virtually overnight. At the state level, the relationship between guideline reform and sentencing severity has been mixed. A number of state legislatures and commissions have created guideline structures with the express purpose of containing prison growth. National rates went up 70 % over the same period. 
The Vera Institute for Justice reports almost the same findings adding a cost factor to the incarceration rate. It reports “During the past several decades, the United States has experienced an unÂ¬precedented expansion in the number of people sent to prison, the number of people supervised on probation and parole, and the overall cost of corrections. From 1985 to 2010, the aggregate state prison population increased by 204 %, the number of people on state-supervised parole and probation rose by 158 % and 122 %, respectively, and states’ corrections spending went up by 674 %.”
According to the Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute report titled “Incarceration Continuing to Raise the Bars, internationally, America became the undisputed champion of the world for incarceration, and still reigns by a wide margin. The U.S. incarcerates the largest number of people of any nation, and at a rate four times the world average.” American incarceration, however, does not appear to be an equal-opportunity option: African Americans are over six times as likely to be incarcerated as Whites; Latinos are over twice as likely.” In addition, Arizona must realize by now that their state has been hit hardest as on of the top states to incarcerate people with a prison population explosion of 1063 % between the years 1979 to 2009. 
Arizona has tough criminal-sentencing laws, many of them implemented in 1993, and the state’s prison costs are now 10 times what they were 30 years ago, while the state’s population has doubled during that period. The Department of Corrections’ annual appropriation for the current fiscal year is $949 million, which is 11 % of the current $8.5 billion budget and an amount larger than the projected shortfall of up $825 million.[Cecil] Ash heads a House committee studying possible sentencing changes. “We have a lot of good ideas out there,” Ash said. “I sense there’s a will to do things differently.” Options identified by legislative budget analysts to cope with rising prison costs include expanding the prison system, diverting some offenders to treatment programs and probation, releasing some prisoners early, and returning fewer parolees to prison for violations. Konopnicki participated in a panel discussion organized by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Ash attended and spoke from the audience.
Coupling this data with the data received from the Treatment Advocacy Center which states that in the United States, there are 3 persons incarcerated for every 1 person admitted to a mental health hospital thus serving time inside of a prison instead of a treatment center. In Nevada and Arizona, these figures reflect a ratio of almost 10 to 1 for Nevada and 9 to 1 for Arizona. Their report titled “More Mentally Ill Persons Are in Jails and Prisons Than Hospitals: A Survey of the States illustrates a dangerous trend happening in America that will result in many criminals released from prison having mental disorders and lacking the treatment for such illnesses while incarcerated and ignored. As a solution to this problem, they survey states “Any state can solve this problem if it has the political will by using assisted outpatient treatment and mental health courts and by holding mental health officials responsible for outcomes. The federal government can solve this problem by conducting surveys to compare the states; attaching the existing federal block grants to better results; and fixing the federal funding system by abolishing the “institutions for mental diseases” (IMD) Medicaid restriction.”  According to the Bureau of Justice (BJS) report on prison population, minorities make up more than 60 % of the population. Sixty-eight % of prison and jail inmates were members of racial or ethnic minority groups. This same report shows a weekly admittance of 700 inmates a week.
The prison dilemma in Arizona is not typical of many other states that seemed to have taken an alternative approach to incarceration and developed community corrections programs to handle many of these offenders instead of sending them to prison. Arizona’s attitude of locking them away and throwing away the key for a fair portion of their time seems to be a most popular approach by many lawmakers reluctant to change anything about how we conduct our prison business in Arizona. Unwilling to follow other state’s examples of changing their sentencing laws, Arizona taxpayers will continue to pay a heavy price for their prisons as it already takes up to 11 % of their total state budget.
The Morrison institutes reports Arizona lawmakers are not convinced that sentencing changes are necessary and instead state that Arizona has experienced a long-term drop in crime in Arizona and the U.S. shows that imprisonment works. 2. Alternative punishments cannot provide the crucial element of “incapacitation” of offenders. 3. Just over half of Arizona inmates are currently imprisoned for a violent offense. 4. About 29% of inmates are repetitive non-violent offenders. 5.Many Arizona inmates currently imprisoned for non-violent crimes actually have documented histories of criminal violence. 6. Prison is the only realistic deterrent to crime among the options available today. 7. Early-release programs and alternative sentencing pose too great a threat to public safety. 8. Despite considerations of cost or recidivism, many Arizonans continue to support imprisonment as the most effective sanction. 9. Prison is the only sanction that fulfills the legitimate social need for “retribution”. Regardless of Arizona’s stand on changing sentencing laws, the Vera Institute for Justice reports many states are reviewing their individual sentencing procedures and consider making changes to address the severe budget shortfalls incurred in the past years. Looking at the Vera Institute for Justice’s web site, you will find good information for their work on creating “partnership with sentencing and corrections officials, Vera works to promote fairness and consistency in sentencing, enhance community-based supervision, and reduce jail and prison overcrowding.”