Over the decades, driven by political expediency, “the law” has become ever more complex, restrictive, and punitive. U.S. Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski stated, “We need to repeal three felonies a day for three years.”
In Alaska, they haven’t repealed any felonies, but the state legislature has enacted a law to bring a higher level of common sense and fair treatment to the Alaska criminal justice system – Alaska Senate Bill 91. With a recidivism rate in excess of 60% in Alaska, they finally figured out that continuing to put people in prison with long sentences for just about any offense is not working.
The bill incorporates recommendations of the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission to adopt data-driven and research-based criminal justice reforms. These reforms include:
- A new risk-based system for release of defendants from jail pretrial, and supervision of those defendants in the community;
- Sentencing reforms that focus prison beds for serious violent offenders;
- And evidence-based practices to strengthen probation and parole supervision.
See the Alaska Dispatch News story here.
Last report was that the bill was awaiting transmittal to the governor.
It’s long, long past time that the legislators around the country started actually looking at the DATA and RESEARCH on criminal issues before they go passing knee-jerk, blatantly political criminal justice legislation. Hats off to Alaska for this. At least it’s a step in the right direction.