Why I Voted Against SB91
By Rep. Dan Ortiz
May 20, 2016
Felonies will have reduced presumptive sentencing and jail time, and sometimes no jail time at all. The bill credits time during the conviction process even for child molesters and murderers. An offender can watch television, spend time with friends, go to work and live normally, then get up to a full year reduced from his/her sentence. Many felons will be released after serving 25 percent of their sentence under never-before-tried ‘administrative parole.’ Many others would receive only one-third of their sentence. Felons will be released faster if they are older than 55 years. Some sex offenders, persons who produce methamphetamine around children, and defendants who harm or kill first responders will all be eligible for discretionary parole.
Rejected parolees will have additional opportunities to file for parole. A parolee who behaves well for thirty days would have thirty reduced from parole. If one behaves well for one year, they can leave parole altogether. A person on probation who behaves well for thirty days would similarly have thirty reduced from probation. Felon probation periods are generally reduced, which means less oversight of dangerous persons.
The bill weakens our fight against domestic violence by reducing the crimes of Unlawful Contact, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Mischief, among others. The bill reduces punishment for C felonies and first time convictions. C felons, like hit and runs, would receive no jail time unless there is proof of aggravation.
It will increase drunk driving in Alaska by allowing electronic monitoring, and hardly sanction repeat offenders with revoked licenses. It treats A misdemeanors as harmless, although they are threats. Judges will struggle to give more than thirty days of jail (twenty days to serve) in most cases. Petty theft will see no punishment.
SB 91 will generate more plea bargains, more dismissals, and more defendants postponing trial to earn credit towards their sentencing. I have significant concerns with the effectiveness and viability of our current system, but in my judgment, and considering the concerns of district attorneys, victims’ rights groups and law enforcement, SB 91 is too lenient. That’s why I voted against SB 91.
Rep. Dan Ortiz
Received May 18, 2016 - Published May 20, 2016
About: Dan Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District. He is the only independent in the Alaska State Legislature.
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