February 28, 2024
👋 It's Wednesday. You're halfway through another week.
☀️Today's weather: Sunny and 77 with a slight chance of showers late in the day.
Today's newsletter is 884 words — a 3.3-minute read.
1 big thing: Incarceration on the rise
Arizona saw its incarceration rate fall amid the pandemic, but its numbers have been creeping back up since.
Why it matters: The state has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates, which criminal justice reform advocates often attribute to harsh sentencing laws.
- Based on 2022 data, Arizona had the country's seventh highest rate, according to The Sentencing Project.
By the numbers: Since experiencing a post-pandemic dip, the number of people incarcerated by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry has been on the rise, according to the department's monthly reports and data from the National Institute of Corrections.
- State prison incarceration reached a high of more than 50,000 in December 2017, per the institute.
- As of July 2022, the state reported the number had dropped to 33,326.
- But the total climbed to 34,547 last month.
Context: Most states locked up fewer people as court proceedings came to a standstill during the pandemic, Mike Wessler, a spokesperson for the nonpartisan nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, told Axios Phoenix.
- Arizona's inmate population fell from just under 42,000 in March 2020 to 37,731 by the end of that year.
Between the lines: When it comes to both state and federal inmates, Arizona's rate also decreased in the wake of the pandemic, according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report.
- Arizona was one of eight states where the DOJ found total incarceration decreased between 2021 and 2022.
- Reality check: That decrease was by just 0.1%.
Zoom out: By comparison, the total U.S. prison population rose 2.1% at the same time. It was "the first increase in the combined state and federal prison population in almost a decade," per the report.
What we're watching: Arizona is among the states that still have "truth in sentencing" laws, which abolished parole and require most inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences.
- Bipartisan legislation to loosen that law fell short in recent years.
2. 🏡 Housing race gap
The typical value of metro Phoenix homes with Black owners ($401,960) is 14% less than the typical value of those with white owners ($468,614), per Zillow data exclusively shared with Axios.
Why it matters: Homeownership remains the biggest driver of the wealth gap, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
What they're saying: Black owners seeing their homes appraising for less than those of their white counterparts isn't new. "It's no longer a myth or legend that this happens," HUD chief of staff Julienne Joseph tells Axios' Brianna Crane.
- The majority of the appraiser workforce is white, and it's often difficult to report appraisal discrimination, though new policies aim to address both of those hurdles, Joseph says.
The big picture: The nationwide value gap is even higher than Phoenix's, at about 18%.
- McAllen, Texas, is the only metro where the typical value of homes with Black owners is higher than that of homes with white owners.
3. 🗺️ Your 36 hours in Phoenix guide
The New York Times earlier this month curated a 36-hour itinerary for exploring Phoenix, and it did a bang-up job highlighting the Valley's can't-miss sites like the Musical Instrument Museum and Desert Botanical Garden.
Yes, but: We asked for the hyper-local recommendations you give to visitors for the full Phoenix experience.
- Here are your picks for travelers who have another 36 hours to spare in the Valley of the Sun.
- Desert Belle Cruises: Explore Saguaro Lake with a guided boat trip.
- Cosanti: Tour the design studio and artistic masterpieces of Paolo Soleri, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Queen Creek Olive Mill: Visit the sprawling estate and taste local olive oils.
🍽️ Dining and drinking:
- Andreoli's Italian Grocer: An authentic market and restaurant blessed by Guy Fieri himself.
- Otro Cafe: A neighborhood cafe serving up delicious Mexican-inspired dishes.
- Sauvage: A trendy wine bar and shop with unique pours and rotating chefs.
🤖 1 robo-chauffeur to go: Reader Glen L. recommended guests take a Waymo robotaxi ride as an affordable alternative to a private chauffeur.
4. Chips & salsa: Bill would legalize killing migrants suspected of trespassing
House Republican lawmakers passed a bill that would make it legal for ranchers to kill unarmed undocumented immigrants on their property. (Axios)
✈️ Budget airline Lynx Air, which offered cheap flights between Phoenix and Canada, shut down after one year. (AZcentral)
💸 Gov. Katie Hobbs blasted the Arizona Board of Regents for failed oversight of UofA's financial crisis, and she demanded a meeting with the board and university. (Arizona Daily Star)
5. 🧚 The tooth fairy tightens its belt
It's National Tooth Fairy Day, and our flying friend is feeling the impact of inflation, we fear.
- For the first time since 2019, the tooth fairy is paying less for lost teeth than the year before.
Why it matters: It's a sign that the tooth fairy's helpers — aka parents — are worn down from two years of high prices, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.
The big picture: The tooth fairy's national average gift value for a single lost tooth dropped 6% to $5.84 from $6.23 last year, according to a Delta Dental survey.
- It's still the second highest value for a lost tooth and a 349% increase from 1998, when a lost tooth fetched $1.30 on average.
Jessica here: You won't find me feeling sorry for today's little ones — the tooth fairy used to bring me a single dollar coin.
You tell us: What's the right price for a tooth in 2024?
🍔 Jeremy likes Wendy's but is not going to pay surge pricing for a burger.
🎻 Jessica is embarrassed to admit she's never been to the Musical Instrument Museum! But after all of your recommendations, she's resolved to do so.
This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Jay Bennett.