Criminal justice reform is working. What are candidates trying to ‘repeal’?

Amid an opioid crisis, rising unemployment and excessive cuts to prosecutors, police and troopers, some candidates suggest we should “repeal” SB 91 and start over with our four-year effort to make better use of public safety resources. These suggestions forget the positive measures enacted in SB 91 and ignore the more than 25 fixes and improvements the Legislature approved during the last two years. Alaska’s criminal justice reform is a response to rising crime, not the cause of it. Alaskans are right to be concerned about crime: We need to move forward and be smart with our resources and tough on crime.

The best reason to move forward with justice reform is that the process is working. Every year, the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission reports on the status of our reform efforts. The newest report, published on Nov. 1, shows Alaska is achieving its goals. Arrest rates and prison admissions are up thanks to increases in prosecutors and police. People convicted of violent crimes now make up a greater share of the prison population. There are more people in prison for drug dealing and fewer addicts in prison for simple drug possession. Department of Corrections is focusing more attention on dangerous individuals, and we have already reinvested $40 million in re-entry services, violence prevention, pretrial enforcement and substance abuse treatment.

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