Getting rid those parts of Senate Bill 91 that have turned Alaska’s criminal justice system into a catch-and-release operation is going to cost millions, testimony in Alaska Senate hearings indicates.
The Senate is getting a look at Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s war on crime, four crime bills aimed at dealing with the state’s rising crime rate.
There is some gnashing of teeth at the prospect of increased spending to repeal parts of SB 91 as the state faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit. SB 91 saved the state money by turning nonviolent crimes, such as petty theft and drug possession, into crimes punishable by means other than incarceration, and that reduced prison populations.
That cost then was paid by the public in other ways.
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, gets it.
Speaking as chairman of the State Affairs Committee, Shower said he feels SB 91 did not represent real cost savings for the state, but amounted to just cost-shifting to Alaskans via more expensive insurance and property losses, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“The cost of all of this not just monetarily … has been shifted to the citizens. That’s why they’re furious,” he said. “The people have asked us to do something, get rid of it, start it over, do it better, so let’s do it.”
We can only hope other legislators are listening.