The Alaska legislature is taking some heat after the senate passed new crime reform measures that may not pass constitutional muster.
The senate approved SB 54 after several late amendments were adopted by the house. One of them would punish C and B level felonies in the same way. SB 54 was brought up after many lawmakers heard complaints that last year’s crime reform bill, SB 91, was too lenient for criminals.
District O Senator Peter Micciche says there are still parts of that original law that have yet to go into effect.
“And that’s where we’re going to do a lot more of the pretrial work and it’s a lot more work with conditions of release. Here’s the deal: if you have a low-level criminal and it’s a first timer, you think you can turn their lives around, you find it has to do with substance abuse of some kind, you get them into a treatment program. If you’re successful and you don’t reoffend, we’re going to help you move on with your life. If you break the deal, so to speak, then you’re going to serve. That’s sort of the philosophy of (SB) 54 as we recognize the gaps in (SB) 91.
A late amendment in the house would allow judges to sentence people to up to two years for a class C felony. But that’s the same penalty allowed for a class B felony and could violate due process provisions in the state constitution. The Alaska ACLU has promised to challenge the new law.