Criminal justice reform may be coming to Alaska. After spending the summer collecting more information on efforts happening in other parts of the country, the Senate Judiciary Committee has started holding hearings again on their omnibus crime bill.
The legislation would raise the dollar-threshold for non-violent crimes like shoplifting and writing bad checks to be considered felonies. It would also set up a prisoner re-entry fund to help ex-convicts return to society, and it would create a criminal justice commission tasked with regularly reviewing the effectiveness of Alaska’s sentencing laws and making sure they’re in line with penalties in other states.
Sen. John Coghill, who chairs the Judiciary committee, says the bill has the potential to save the state money and improve public safety outcomes.
“We’re trying to say ‘We can’t afford to build another jail,” says Coghill.
Alaska has the worst recidivism rate in the country. Two-thirds of the state’s prisoners eventually go back after their release.
Watch yesterday’s committee meeting courtesy Gavel Alaska:
- Gov. Bill Walker has signed legislation he says will provide more timber for Alaska’s mills. But it probably won’t be that much of an increase.
- The state department of Health and Social Services announced the first known case of the Zika virus in the state July 22, belonging to a patient treated at SEARHC’s Mt. Edgcumbe Hospital in Sitka.
- Bristol Bay is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. The 2 billionth salmon was landed sometime, by someone, on July 6, 2016.
- The Alaska Supreme Court overturned the state’s parental notification law for minors who are seeking abortions.