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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Criminal Reform

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


November 07, 2017
Tuesday PM

Earlier this week, the Alaska State House passed Senate Bill 54, “Crime and Sentencing,” with 32 yes votes and 8 nays. Broadly speaking, SB 54 is a partial repeal of SB 91, which was passed last year. Although I did not vote for SB91 at the time, there are some aspects of that criminal reform bill that are worth keeping, for example: programs like pre-trial services and tougher sentences on murder and rape. However, SB 54 makes some necessary changes to SB 91, which I’ve briefly outlined below:

  • Instead of only receiving a ticket for violating conditions of release (in SB91), SB54 restores up to five days in jail, doubling for each repeat violation;
  • Removes the 60-day sentence cap for the second offense of a C felony, and replaces it with up to one year of active jail time;
  • Lowers the threshold for felony theft from $1,000 to $750;
  • Instead of letting still-drunk DUI suspects back on the streets, police can hold them until they are sober;
  • Closes the loophole in SB91 that lets sex traffickers off the hook if they claim they are solely prostitutes;
  • Allows court to order all drug and alcohol offenders to complete a treatment program;
  • Increases penalties for assaults against uniformed public safety officers;
  • Adds a re-offense penalty for low level theft;
  • Increases penalties for disorderly conduct;
  • Adds certain opioids to our most dangerous drug classification;
  • Will no longer release a convict with “administrative parole” after serving just a quarter of their sentence;
  • Adds a provision preventing jails from letting an arrested individual back out on the street if they are too intoxicated to care for themselves;
  • Directs public safety stakeholders and local law enforcements to hold cross-departmental information sessions on new criminal codes;

As the legislature continues to debate criminal justice reform, my main goal is to promote the safety for the people of District 36 and to drive down recidivism rates, which, in the end, will do the most to promote the general safety of all Alaskans. Please reach out to me if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions at or (907) 247-4672.


Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

About: 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 House. 


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received November 07, 2017 - Published November 07, 2017

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