Public Testimony on SB 54, Crime & Sentencing
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans:
On October 24th, I sent out notice for public testimony on Senate Bill 54, Crime and Sentencing. Thank you to those who were able to testify.
There is another chance to testify today, Monday, October 30, from 5-9 PM this time in the House Finance Committee.
As I stated last week, I do NOT believe that Senate Bill 91 (the omnibus crime bill passed last year) has been a major cause of recent increasing crime rates. There are many causes (some known and of course unknown) and cause and effect is difficult to attribute. Of course there are some influences such as the slowing state economy, budget cuts, and the opioid crisis: there is correlation between economic down turns and more crime; recent budget cuts have led to fewer troopers, prosecutors and fewer cases being prosecuted; and many property crimes are committed to get money to buy addictive drugs. In addition, parts of SB 91 have not even taken effect yet including the addition of 60 new parole officers who are trained with follow up and help parolees seek treatment, housing, employment etc.
SB 91 was not a perfect bill, however, and Senate Bill 54 is designed to fix it. Personally, I believe SB 54 is a good bill and makes sensible changes to SB 91.
Whatever insights or viewpoint you hold, I encourage you to testify today from 5-9 PM. Criminal justice reform takes time. So I believe we need to leave most of SB 91 in place. Passage of SB 54 will improve the goals of SB 91 – together, I'm confident these reforms will both save the state money and reduce crime.
States such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and others have had much success with similar types of reform and have experienced lower recidivism, lower prison populations and lower crime rates. But again, these things take time: it doesn’t happen in one or two years. Also, we need to fund programs that will replace incarceration. Treatment and rehab are a better option than prison but if they’re not funded then people are just let go into society and that helps no one. We have realized savings already from SB 91 and that’s how we’ve started to fund the new parole officers but it’s just the beginning. Let’s give reform some time.
As provided last week, here is a link to an FAQ on SB 54 from the Department of Law: http://www.law.state.ak.us/press/releases/2017/100317-SB54-FAQ.html
I encourage anyone interested to testify on SB 54 tonight from 5-9 PM. If you are able, it's best to go to the Fairbanks LIO at 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308. If necessary, you can call 844.586.9085 to testify.