Rep. Chris Tuck

Rep. Chris Tuck
Representative
Chris Tuck

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Governor Walker,
Anchorage Office:
907-269-7450
EMAIL:
Gov. Bill Walker
WEBSITE: gov.alaska.gov

Senator Lisa Murkowski,
Anchorage Office:
907-271-3735,
EMAIL: Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Senator Dan Sullivan,
Anchorage Office:
907-271-5915
EMAIL: Sen. Dan Sullivan

Congressman Don Young,
Anchorage Office:
907-271-5978
EMAIL: Rep. Don Young

  November 7, 2017

Making Urgent Changes to the SB 91 Crime Bill

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for all the calls and correspondence concerning the improvements to public safety.

Early this morning at 1:00 am, the House passed Senate Bill 54 making necessary fixes to Senate Bill 91, the previous crime reform bill. Making Alaska a safer place to live is my number one priority. SB 54 represents an urgent response to the recent spike in criminal activity by being smarter and tougher on crime. We listened to the people and acted to improve and repair many of the unintentional problems of SB 91. 

This bill was developed and considered after countless hours of debate and public testimony from experts and people from all over Alaska:

  • 8 days of committee work (45 hours)
  • nearly 13 hours of public testimony
  • nearly 50 amendments in committee with nearly another 50 on the House floor
  • 4 days of debate on the House Floor

This is in addition to hearings and public testimony in Anchorage before the House Budget Subcommittees on Public Safety, Administration, Corrections, and Law, and the House Judiciary Committee before session began in Juneau.

The most important fixes include:

  • restoring some of the minimum sentences for misdemeanor and felony crimes
  • beefing up sentencing guidelines
  • increasing sentencing and monitoring of sex offenders
  • lowering the felony theft threshold to $750
  • strengthening punishments for violating release conditions

Many other changes were made to SB 91 which had made the prosecution of crime too lenient and failed to insure public safety. Yet, the fundamental question remains; how to stop future crime?

Reps. Tuck and Millett on the House Floor during special session on crime reform
Reps. Tuck and Millett on the House Floor during special session on crime reform

Two-thirds of those incarcerated in Alaska will re-offend and return to prison. Since most offenders will eventually return to society, we must do what is necessary to aid in their reintegration so they will not commit future crimes. We address this through SB 54 by:

  • adding caseload caps for probation and parole officers
  • allowing probationers to earn credits for complying with the conditions of their probation
  • implementing substance abuse screening
  • expanding access to the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) to get treatment

Real criminal justice reform was necessary and the best way to achieve that goal was to repair the problems of SB 91, not return to a system that was failing. Violent crime rates had been rising since 1986 and property crime rates have been increasing since 2011, well before passage of SB 91.

Let me be clear that these are not the final solutions; ill-advised budget cuts have made it increasingly difficult for law enforcement officers and the courts to do their jobs. Between fiscal years 2015 and 2018 the criminal justice agency budgets were reduced by 13 percent. Fewer troopers, fewer prosecutors, smaller staffing, and a court system hampered by ongoing budget considerations are not helping to improve public safety. Restoring these cuts must become our priority.

There is still much work to be done to reverse the shortage of prosecutors and fund the rehabilitation of offenders to prevent future crime. In this time of budgetary austerity, the legislature and the public still must know the facts as we continue to make future decisions. SB 54 adds the provision to continue studying the risk factors associated with criminal activity so more information can inform future policy decisions. 

Reps. Tuck and Josephson with Speaker Edgmon during at ease on crime reform bill
Reps. Tuck and Josephson with Speaker Edgmon during at ease on crime reform bill

As the downturn in our economy and the rise in opiate addiction continue to plague our state more changes must be made for improving public safety and restoring the health of our economy. Our state requires a future that is safe, healthy and prosperous.

Let us continue our efforts to work together so that we can do what is necessary to improve the safety of the public today while helping to solve the long-term root causes of crime. I still believe prosperity is the key to a better life and I will continue to work hard to grow our economy in a way that creates opportunities and increases the health, safety and well-being of all Alaskans.

I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!

Warm regards,

[signed] Chris Tuck
      Chris Tuck
      Alaska State Representative
      District 23 - Anchorage


 
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