News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Coghill
For Immediate Release: April 07, 2017

Effort to Increase Public Safety Passes Senate

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JUNEAU – The Alaska State Senate passed legislation today protecting public safety, following through on a commitment to Alaskans to ensure police have the tools they need to fight crime and to restore public confidence.

The reforms in Senate Bill 54 are responsive to concerns from law enforcement and Alaskans in communities troubled by increases in crime, largely fueled by drug abuse. The bill strikes a balance between the need to hold offenders accountable and protect public safety, and the long-term goals of reducing recidivism and supporting rehabilitation.

“SB 54 makes substantive revisions to last year’s criminal justice reform package in response to concerns from law enforcement and the public,” said Sen. John Coghill (R-Fairbanks). “These changes provide a balance between rehabilitation and the need to confine offenders in the interest of public safety.”

SB 54 allows tougher sentences for crimes. In particular, the bill:

  • Increases the punishment for first convictions on class C felonies from 18 months of suspended time with supervision, to up to one year of jail time;
  • Strengthens punishments on fourth degree theft and similar misdemeanor offenses; and
  • Allows judges to jail offenders who violate conditions of release from jail.

Additionally, SB 54 implements a number of recommendations from the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission.

Senators are looking forward to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission’s ongoing work gathering information to inform future policy actions, with the goals of increasing public safety, holding offenders accountable for their actions, and reducing recidivism.

SB 54 passed by a vote of 19 to 1 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives.

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