Senate Judiciary committee gets first look at Dunleavy's crime reform bills

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) — The Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed the first of the governor’s package of crime reform bills Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 32 would bring sentencing ranges back to pre-Senate Bill 91 levels and make possession of certain drugs a felony.

Presenting to the committee Wednesday afternoon were Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price and Department of Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom.

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, asked the attorney general if he believed the governor’s legislation would satisfy the public’s demands to see criminal justice reformed.

Clarkson said he believes the legislation addresses public concerns, and that splitting the legislation into four components would make it easier for the Legislature to tackle and easier for the public to understand than a single omnibus bill.

Price said she was encouraged by the legislation that troopers and prosecutors would be given the tools to reduce crime rates and drug possession. Dahlstrom agreed, saying that making the removal of electronic monitoring bracelets a felony was a step forward and that many in law enforcement felt like their hands were currently tied.

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, asked the commissioners and attorney general how effective the governor’s proposed legislation would be in curbing crime rates that had been rising since 2013 — three years before SB 91 was passed by the Legislature.

Clarkson said he couldn’t quantify the exact impact of repealing SB 91, but said that the public is demanding changes to the criminal justice system. “I think we need to act now, and roll back to where we were,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary committee will hold public testimony on Senate Bill 32 on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.