Why Alaska Senators Murkowski and Sullivan vote "no" on criminal justice overhaul bill

Sen. Sullivan released a video statement on Youtube explaining why he voted against the bill.

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The President has signed a criminal justice overhaul bill into law aimed at reducing repeat offender rates.

S.756, or the First Step Act, was a bi-partisan measure, but U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan were two of 12 no votes against 87 in favor, according to ProPublica.

Sen. Sullivan posted an explanation for his vote on YouTube, saying the First Step Act bears too close a resemblance to SB91.

“I did not believe that this federal criminal justice reform that had some elements that were similar to SB91 would be good for Alaska,” Sullivan said in the video. “Particularly during a time in which we’re all struggling with crime.”

In a statement released to the press, Sen. Sullivan said the First Step Act may allow certain violent and drug criminals to be eligible for early release, and will reduce sentences for serious repeat drug offenders.

He said he could not in good conscience vote for a bill reducing prison time for the people compounding the issues prevalent here in Alaska.

"Some of the details of this bill, in particular the reduction of sentences for repeat drug traffickers and even the potential for a reduced sentence or reduced time for violent criminals were things that I could not support," Sullivan said.

Sen. Murkowski tweeted a statement before her vote against the reform bill on Dec. 18th.

“The Senate moved to take up a pkg that could reduce time that drug traffickers & other convicted felons spend in federal prison in the name of rehabilitation. Reforming our troubled criminal justice system deserves the Senate’s full attention & should not be rushed through,” Murkowski's tweet read.

The President signed the bill Dec. 21, 2018.