The Alaska Legislature passed the crime reform bill, SB 91, in 2016. Senators John Coghill and now-retired Johnny Ellis co-sponsored the bill, which passed both houses with a two-thirds majority vote. In July, Governor Bill Walker signed it into law.
Alaska’s bill is a part of criminal justice reform sweeping many states. It aims to spend public money within the criminal justice system much more effectively, shifting almost $100 million in savings to crime-reduction programs over six years. Supporters say it will save $380 million; $280 million in direct net savings and $169 million in averted future costs.
A goal of SB 91 is to reduce the prison population by 13 percent over the next decade. This population has grown 27 percent in the last decade—three times faster than the state’s population. Most damning is Alaska’s recidivism rate: two out of every three return to prison within three years.
The movement has a long list of supporters, including the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Food Bank of Alaska, the Alaska Mental Health Trust and AWAIC, to name some. Detractors include victims’ rights advocates and some in police enforcement.
On Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska, co-hosts Kathleen McCoy and Senior Judge Elaine Andrews will discuss the bill and proposed changes with experts in the field. Join us with your questions, ideas and concerns.
HOSTS: Senior Judge Elaine Andrews and Kathleen McCoy
- Susanne DiPietro, executive director, Alaska Judicial Council
- John Skidmore, Alaska Department of Law Criminal Division Director John Skidmore
- SB 91, Alaska State Legislature, bills & laws
- SB 54, adjusting SB 91, sponsor statement, Sen. John Coghill
- SB 54, Alaska State Legislature, bills & laws
- SB 55, Alaska State Legislature, bills & laws
- Alaskans voice concern about comprehensive crime bill at hearing 9/2016, ADN
- Alaska’s sweeping new crime bill already under pressure for change, 1/2017, ADN
- Alaska crime bill is big step forward but needs an adjustment, Governor Bill Walker. ADN
- Alaska Senate Majority fact sheet, criminal justice reform
- PEW Alaska criminal justice reform report, PDF
- Right on Crime, website, conservative support for criminal reform
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LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Alaska time)
REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, March 15 2017, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Alaska time)