ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - UPDATE:
An amended version of assembly member Croft’s resolution has passed by a vote of 10-1. Assembly member Amy Demboski was the only ‘no’ vote.
“I fundamentally think SB91 is flawed. If you look at the goal of SB-91, the goal of SB-91 was to reduce the prison population not to reduce crime,” Demboski said. “Clearly it does that and I think by giving our stamp of approval to the legislature on SB-54, I think it’ll give them an excuse not to go further.”
Assembly member Forest Dunbar (East Anchorage) was among those to voice support for the amended resolution.
“This is not a small or cosmetic change there are some substantive changes in SB54 and furthermore with the changes that Mr. Croft recommends they become even more substantive and then now we’ve got an even stronger resolution with Mr. Dyson’s language,” Dunbar said. “I think this is a strong resolution, a strong message to the legislature.”
On Tuesday night, the Anchorage Assembly will vote on two proposed resolutions urging state lawmakers to reform Alaska’s criminal justice system.
The resolutions are merely a set of recommendations from the assembly, aimed at influencing legislators’ decisions, when they return to Juneau for a fourth special lawmaking session on Oct. 23.
Both resolutions take aim at Senate Bill 91, a controversial crime reform bill that was signed into law last year. Since then, many Alaskans have blamed SB91 for emboldening criminals by reducing the severity of certain offenses and imposing weak sentences.
Debate over a new crime reform bill, Senate Bill 54, will resume when lawmakers return to the state capital later this month.
The first of the two resolutions up for consideration Tuesday night was submitted by assembly member Eric Croft (West Anchorage). It calls on lawmakers to immediately approve increased funding for drug and alcohol treatment, as well as prosecutors, probation, police and corrections officers.
Croft’s resolution also lends support to SB-54, but recommends a few changes, such as restoring probation limits for some misdemeanor offenses. Under SB-91, probation time for many misdemeanors was limited to a year or less.
“This severely limits the ability of prosecutors to enforce probation conditions, undermines treatment as a condition of probation, and allows repeat offenders to avoid punishment,” the resolution reads.
The second resolution, submitted by assembly member Amy Demboski (Chugiak/Eagle River), urges lawmakers to repeal SB-91 in its entirety. It also calls for increasing the minimum sentences for sex offenses, mandatory drug rehabilitation for inmates, a broader definition of arson to include vehicles burned on private property and expanding victims’ rights.
“The negative and detrimental effects of SB-91, combined with the lack of probation and treatment programs, have contributed to serious public safety problems in Anchorage and the rest of the state,” Demboski’s resolution reads.
Unlike Croft, Demboski’s resolution claims that SB-54 does not do enough to address the many issues associated with its predecessor.
“The Alaska Legislature has proposed SB-54 to address these concerns, but the bill proposed piecemeal fixes to a few problems created, or exacerbated, by SB-91 and will not fundamentally fix SB-91,” the resolution says.
According to assembly chair Dick Traini, the two resolutions are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible for the assembly to pass both of them.
“I can see both of them passing,” Traini told Channel 2 by phone Tuesday afternoon.