FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2017
Juneau – Today, legislation sponsored by Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) that would pay back Permanent Fund Dividends for wrongfully imprisoned Alaskans passed the Alaska House of Representatives with bipartisan support.
“While there is no price on the personal and emotional suffering of those wrongly imprisoned, this bill is an important a step towards righting the state’s wrong,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
Incarcerated Alaskans currently forgo their Permanent Fund Dividends to the State of Alaska. House Bill 127 seeks to repay PFD’s to Alaskans whose convictions were vacated, reversed, or dismissed. If HB 127 is signed into law, those eligible must apply for the PFD within one year following the new judgment or within one year of the effective date of the bill.
The Alaska Department of Revenue calculates the amount of dividends eligible to be paid late based on the estimated cases of successful appeals for that particular qualifying year. Under HB 127, the minute someone is eligible to receive a PFD for a vacated, reversed, or dismissed conviction, the Alaska Court System would notify the Department of Revenue, which would then calculate the potential payout.
“This is a sound, relatively simple bill that would correct a serious injustice for little to no cost for each Alaskan,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “The State of Alaska has a responsibility to ensure those convicted of crimes are prosecuted fairly and justly. In the event the justice system fails, repaying Permanent Fund Dividends would help these Alaskans transition back to normal life.”
House Bill 127 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 38-1. The bill now goes to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact William Jodwalis in Rep. Kawasaki’s office at (907) 465-3466.