State Senate Passes Crime Bill

The State Senate unanimously passed the governor’s crime package on Monday.

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The bill is meant to combat Alaska’s high rates of domestic and sexual violence.

“We have a problem in Alaska,” said Sen. John Coghill. “This is some forward motion on ways to protect the victims, hold criminals accountable, and give good process for them to work.”

The bill amends criminal code in dozens of ways, with special attention to sex crimes. It gets rid of a statute of limitations for human trafficking and child pornography. It allows for wiretapping in trafficking cases. It makes it so that persons charged with stalking or domestic violence could be ordered to wear GPS monitors. It also makes it a third-degree felony for a probation or parole officer to have sex with someone in their charge. That provision is in response to a case where a state officer had women perform sexual acts in exchange for covering up probation violations. The officer could only be charged with official misconduct and bribery.

Sen. Lesil McGuire, an Anchorage Republican, described that case as “horrific” during discussion of the bill.

“Just because somebody has committed a crime and might be on probation or parole, we don’t allow them to be further sexually violated,” said McGuire.

One controversial provision of Gov. Sean Parnell’s original bill was removed during the committee process. Lawmakers got rid of language that would have imposed criminal penalties on volunteers for sports teams if they didn’t report suspected child abuse.

A companion bill in the House is now in its final committee of review.