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:
- Sen. Kevin Meyer said his constituents oppose creating a new bureaucracy to collect an income tax when the Permanent Fund continues to pay dividends.
- Two dead squid have washed ashore in as many weeks, but it's unclear if these are unrelated incidents or a sign of something more significant.
- A GoFundMe appeal to help rebuild the Twin Lakes playground raised $4,625 in less than a day. But read the fine print: the website takes nearly 8 percent in fees.
- The fire marshal also noted no accelerants -- such as gasoline -- were used. He said the shredded rubber material on the playground became the fuel source.