Alaskans provide input on partial rollback of crime reform

Published: Oct. 30, 2017 at 7:14 PM AKDT
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As partial rollback of Alaska’s new crime reform legislation continues to be debated in Juneau, Senate Bill 54 continues to receive feedback from Alaskans.

On Monday afternoon the House Finance Committee heard from state department heads and then the public.

“SB 91 is not the cause of our crime problems and should not be repealed,” said Laura Bonner at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.

SB 54 arrived in the hands of the House Finance Committee with more options for prosecutors to jail offenders. The House Judiciary Committee approved eight amendments, including the ability to jail someone charged with a class C felony for up to two days for bail processing and five days for disorderly conduct.

“I’m afraid I’m not very optimistic when we talk about doing all these things to help people who are very obviously in need, but yet we’ve cut back our services in the state so severely,” said Anchorage resident Carl Berger.

SB 54 amends SB 91, a bill that followed Justice Commission recommendations. The commission found the state’s prison population was growing faster than the general population and it would cost the state a new prison.

“I do not believe it’s had enough time to prove its effectiveness. There’s a lot of good research with outcomes that indicate that prison reform in other states have reduced costs while reducing recidivism,” said Doug White, Executive Director of Access Alaska.

The last piece of SB 91 is set to go into effect in January, moving away from a cash bail system to one based on the likelihood someone will commit a new offense.

The House Finance Committee planned to reconvene Tuesday at 1 p.m. with a presentation from Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth on the agenda.