As special session starts, House puts criminal justice bill on fast track
Public testimony on Senate Bill 54 continues at 6 p.m. tonight
It started slowly, but the fourth special session of the 30th Alaska Legislature appeared to be on a fast track by the end of its first day on Monday.
Lawmakers in the House moved rapidly to advance a measure that aims to roll back a portion of last year’s criminal justice reform known Senate Bill 91. In a 25-12 vote, the House advanced Senate Bill 54 to the House Judiciary Committee, which began taking public comment before the day ended.
Public comment on SB 54 was taken on Monday night in the Capitol.
“I think there’s an emphasis by the Legislature on getting SB 54 heard and passed as swiftly as we reasonably can,” Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, told the Empire.
As signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker in 2016, SB 91 encouraged alternatives to jail — probation, electronic monitoring and drug treatment, for example — for nonviolent crime. The bill was intended to reduce the number of Alaskans who return to jail after being released once. In turn, that would reduce the chance that the state will need to build another prison, saving millions.
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