Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, left, Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, center, and Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, are introduced at the Native Issues Forum at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Wednesday,Jan. 23, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, left, Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, center, and Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, are introduced at the Native Issues Forum at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau delegation reacts to gov’s call for ‘war on criminals’

Kiehl, Hannan and Story react to gov’s call for public safety changes

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s call for a “war on criminals” in Tuesday night’s State of the State address sparked conversation at Wednesday’s Native Issues Forum, which highlights issues in the Alaska Native community.

“If we want to address crime, let’s address crime,” Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, said to a person in the audience who said Alaska Natives are disproportionately incarcerated at higher rates than the general population, and questioned what this would mean to them. “But to declare war on people, I think takes Alaska in a very dangerous direction. The approaches that we think of when people talk about ‘war on criminals’ don’t save us any money.”

[Watch the full forum discussion here]

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, also a featured speaker at the forum, alongside Kiehl and Rep. Andi Story of Juneau, told the Empire she did not find the term “war on criminals” appropriate. She also questioned how Dunleavy can afford such a measure while also balancing the budget.

“It is an interesting dichotomy for me to hear the governor talk about saving money without understanding that the most expensive thing in a society you can do is put people in prison,” said Hannan during the forum to an applause from the crowd. About 100 people attended the forum at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

Hannan said she doesn’t want to dismiss Dunleavy’s goal on public safety, but said prevention and education could be more beneficial than just adding more state troopers or village public safety officers.

“Public safety is a 24-hour day, and the law enforcement piece is a couple hours of that day,” she said, using metaphor to describe the issue. “Most of the day is before that, and the cost afterward of what are you doing with someone once they’re in the system, because if you don’t do anything different when they exit the system from incarceration, the crime pattern repeats.”

[Gov’s crime message resonates, but Juneau lawmakers hesitant about constitutional amendments]

Story said the delegation will be examining the crime bills the governor introduced Wednesday to ensure reentry programs are available, and that bail prices are more based on risk-factor than money.

Other issues

Juneau’s legislative delegation outlined their priorities, answered questions from the public, and talked education, fishing, the budget, keeping Juneau as the capital and the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Kiehl said he would like to work with the attorney general on making use of the tribal courts system and blending them when possible. He also spoke in opposition of a bill filed that proposes moving the capital to Anchorage.

[Sexual violence, capital move and the PFD: Here’s four of the most important pre-filed bills]

Hannan was firm on not cutting any money from the education budget, and making sure that the ferry system stays works, not just for tourists or profit, but to keep remote villages connected.

Story also said she wants to preserve the $30 million set aside for education in former Gov. Bill Walker’s budget, and work on revitalizing Alaska Native languages as part of the “linguistic emergency” declared in House Concurrent Resolution 19 last year.

Other concerns from the crowd were if Alaska should switch to rank voting, like the system used in Maine, and what the legislators plan to do to sustain long-term herring harvest in Southeast Alaska.

[Activist group fights to conserve Sitka’s herring harvest]

• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at or 523-2228.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read