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Governor Announces Next Steps to Building a Safer Alaska


September 17, 2017
Sunday AM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Bill Walker announced Friday that he has tasked Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth to create and implement a public safety action plan. The first step, he said, is to add Senate Bill 54 to the October 23rd special session call.

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"I have heard from Alaskans who have had cars, cabins and homes broken into," Governor Walker said. "Thieves are openly stealing from businesses. Results from the 2016 Alaska Crime Report prove that crime is up. Whether caused by economic instability, the opioid crisis, or criminal justice reform, we must tackle the problem with a plan of action-with immediate, mid-term and long-term steps. Passing SB 54 this year is an important immediate step we can take."

Earlier this year, the Walker-Mallott administration proposed fixes to Senate Bill 91, the 2016 bill that addressed criminal justice reform, to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. Most of the revisions were included in SB 54 introduced last session.

"SB 91 overhauled our criminal justice code, and with any overhaul, you need to keep a close eye on how it's working and fix it when needed," said Attorney General Lindemuth. "SB 54 is a good first step in giving necessary tools back to our law enforcement and prosecutors. But we have to remember that SB 54 is only a piece of the puzzle. We are actively reaching out to our federal, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to get input into a larger integrated plan."

Senate Bill 54 would give courts the ability to impose jail time for first-time Class C felonies or repeat theft offenses. This would act as a potential deterrent and encourage offenders suffering from addiction to seek treatment.

In a prepared statement Representative Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) thanked the governor for adding Senate Bill 54 to the October Special Session Call.

“Thank you for protecting Alaskans by adding SB 54 to the call of this special session. While I do not believe this legislation goes far enough, it is a step in the right direction. The needed reforms of SB 91 cannot wait another year; a year sure to be monopolized by discussions of the FY19 budget and other measures," said Pruitt.

Pruitt said, "During SB 91’s passage I warned we were heading towards a perfect storm for crime in Alaska, and the changes we made to our justice system sent a message that Alaska was open season for criminals. We must now send an even louder message that Alaska is an unwelcome place for those preying on residents and businesses in our state.“

Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) also thanked Governor Walker for the inclusion of Senate Bill 54 in his special session call.

Millett said, “There is no greater priority than ensuring Alaskans feel safe in their homes,” said Representative Millett. “My constituents, and Alaskans across this state, are scared and angry that their government is failing to keep criminals off of our streets and bring justice to crime victims.”

"While Senate Bill 54 is far from a total fix to the dangerous, detrimental changes made to Alaska’s laws by Senate Bill 91, a bill which Rep. Millett did not support, it does at least impose greater sentences for certain felony offenses and allow jail time for certain theft offenses," said Millett.

“While I’m glad to see SB 54 on the October call, I wish it had received the attention deserved during the regular session instead of being stalled in committee by the Democrat-led House Majority,” said Representative Millett. “There’s no more time to waste. Senate Bill 54 is an important first step, and we will be working during this special session to see real reforms made to our criminal code.”

Members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition also reacted to the Governor press conference Friday announcing his intention to include criminal justice legislation on the call for the October special session.

“We are committed to seriously considering policy recommendations that evidence shows will make Alaskans safer,” said Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon  (D-Dillingham). “I know that public safety is a priority for our coalition and we will absolutely do what is in our power to keep Alaska families safe.”

Edgmon said on behalf of the House Majority Coalition, “On the one hand, our scarce resources and criminal justice policies need to focus on keeping dangerous criminals off the street. On the other hand, the Legislature must also act on our long term fiscal situation this fall. Cuts to prosecutors, State Troopers, substance abuse treatment, and local law enforcement all contribute to crime rates. If we want to reverse those cuts, or invest in combating drivers of crime like the opioid epidemic and ongoing recession, we must fix our fiscal footing first.”

In 2016, Alaska was reported to be the most dangerous state in the nation based on its violent crime rate for the third year in a row, according to the latest crime statistics from the FBI. The rate of violent crime increased significantly in Alaska in 2015 going from 636 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2014 to 730 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2015. Following Alaska is Nevada (696 violent crimes per 100,000 people) and New Mexico (656 violent crimes per 100,000 people).



2016 Alaska's Uniform Crime Reports - State & Local Reports


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of the Governor

Alaska House Majority Coalitioon

Rep. Charisse Millett

Rep. Lance Pruitt



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