State senators push for criminal justice reform

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:

Recent headlines

  • Acting Alaska U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder speaks at a press conference in Anchorage on March 23, 2017.

    Veteran prosecutor nominated to be the US attorney in Alaska

    Trump nominated Bryan Schroder for the post, the acting head of the Alaska district since Karen Loeffler and 45 other U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama were asked to resign after Trump's election.
  • The Alaska Capitol Building in Juneau on June 6, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

    Alaska lawmakers to reconvene on capital budget next week

    A Senate spokesman says the third special session is likely to start Thursday, July 27, in Juneau, and it's expected to last one or two days. The House and Senate indicated an agreement had been reached.
  • A robotic camera provides for wildlife tracking across a meadow near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center for Wild Alaska Live. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

    Video: Behind the scenes of Wild Alaska Live

    The BBC and PBS are teaming up on a special series of live, prime-time nature programs showcasing Alaska’s wildlife to tens of millions of people around the world. Cutting edge technology and a lot of luck goes into the high stakes production.
  • Greens Creek Mine

    Juneau Assembly mining task force to add members

    The three-member Juneau Assembly mining task force is seeking to add two planning commissioners and two members of the public. The group is studying a proposal to streamline the city's mining review process.
X