In this file photo, Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, asks a question as Donna Arduin, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Mike Barnhill, policy director for the OMB. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

In this file photo, Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, asks a question as Donna Arduin, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Mike Barnhill, policy director for the OMB. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Legislators aim to get crime legislation right

It may take more time.

Improving public safety remains a consensus priority among legislators, but senators from both sides of the aisle want to be deliberate in their approach to crime reform.

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, who chairs the State Affairs Committee, said the Senate is breaking these crime bills down into “more digestible chunks” while in committee, as opposed to massive bills that overhaul the state’s criminal code, like Senate Bill 91 did. SB 91 is a controversial criminal reform bill passed into that that many have criticized for being too lenient and contributing to Alaska’s high crime rates.

“One of the intents is to slow this down as much as we need to,” Shower said during a Wednesday press conference, “to make sure we are not just rubber stamping bills that come from the administration, to make sure we’re taking a good hard look at things that need to be fixed.”

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, agreed and said they should be “really careful” as they hammer out crime reform legislation.

“It’s so important to get every word of a criminal bill right, otherwise someone could walk free,” Kiehl said.

Kiehl pointed to Sen. Peter Micciche’s Senate Bill 12, which aims to close the “Schnieder Loophole.” According to a release from Soldotna Republican’s office, the bill would close the “Schneider Loophole,” which refers to the Justin Schneider case in Anchorage. Schneider strangled a woman until she passed out and then he ejaculated on her. He pleaded guilty to a single felony charge and served no additional jail time. His crime fell outside the criminal code’s definition of sexual assault and he walked out of court with no jail time. The Schneider case ignited outrage throughout the state.

Kiehl said the Senate Judiciary Committee was about to introduce a substitute bill for SB 12 today, but at the last minute it was decided the language was not quite right. The new version of the bill might be introduced Friday instead. As a result public testimony on the SB 12 has been postponed until the new bill is introduced.

With a deliberate approach to criminal reform what can Alaskans expect this year?

[Here’s a look at what Dunleavy’s four new crime bills would do]

“I think the bill to close the sex crime loopholes (SB 35) goes this year,” Kiehl said. “Each of the others (SB 32-34) have some major implications.”

Kiehl noted that crime reform can be expensive, so in passing legislation, the most “important thing” is “actually reducing crime.”

“We have to make sure we’re reducing crime, not (passing legislation) on knee-jerk reactions,” Kiehl said.


• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneaumpire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


More in News

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Tuesday, Nov. 30

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

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

This photo shows a raven in the snow. (Courtesy Photo / Kerry Howard)
On the Trails: Transition to winter — maybe

A mat of old leaves lined the roadway, each leaf fringed with crystals, making a pretty mosaic…

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

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

Thin ice sheets form near the Mendenhall Glacier in early November. (Courtesy Photo / Kenneth Gill, gillfoto)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Reader-submitted photos of Southeast Alaska.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

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

A cuddle-puddle of kittens nestles at Juneau Animal Rescue, which recently received a large legacy gift from a Juneau resident. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Juneau resident leaves one last gift for local nonprofits

The gift will help support organizations who made possible what she loved doing in life.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Monday, Nov. 29

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

Most Read