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 Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.

More in News

Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
The Arctic ringed seal is listed as a “threatened” subspecies of ringed seal under the Endangered Species Act.
Feds reject petition to delist Arctic ringed seals as threatened

Since 2013, three subspecies of ringed seal — the Arctic, Okhotsk and Baltic — have been listed as threatened.

Travelers arrive at the Juneau International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, made up only about half of what the airport normally sees in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Nov. 24, is being used by the City and Borough of Juneau as an emergency facility during the coronavirus pandemic and will not host the annual Public Market which has taken place every weekend after Thanksgiving since 1983. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Want to buy Alaskan? Closed by pandemic, Public Market goes virtual

Normally throngs of Juneauites would be lined up around the block…

To capture the unexpected action- the unrepeatable moment- it should be instinctive.  In order to build the story you have to shoot the adjective.  In this photo the bald eagle had waited patiently for the right moment to pounce on an unsuspecting vole… the unexpected.  The best way to accomplish this is to master the art of the most difficult subject to photograph– birds in flight.  In order to do this you must learn your gear; it must become part of your muscle memory so you can concentrate on the story you are witnessing.  Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 150-600mm, shot at 600mm, ISO AUTO (1250), F6.3, 1/3200, Handheld. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)
Focal Point: Great photos are just waiting in the wings

Learn to shoot the verb (and the bird).

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020

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

Meals slated for children in Juneau over Thanksgiving weekend are arrayed on tables at Thunder Mountain High School on Nov. 25, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Luke Adams)
Font of plenty: JSD readies meals for Thanksgiving holiday

Nearly three tons of food got distributed for the long weekend.

Construction of the new Glory Hall, above, is going smoothly, said executive director Mariya Lovishchuk on Nov. 24, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Thor Lindstam)
Building a brighter future: New Glory Hall reaches skyward

The structure is rapidly progressing, shouldering aside inclement weather.

Most Read