Governor Announces Next Steps to Building a Safer Alaska
September 17, 2017
"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."
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).
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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