JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska state Sen. Mia Costello is trying to repeal a sweeping reform of the state’s criminal justice system that she supported in 2016.
In the year and a half since the change, Alaska crime rates have increased, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2xMF0VS ) Wednesday. The new system promotes counseling, treatment and other alternatives to jail for low-level nonviolent crimes.
“We need to clear the deck and start from the beginning,” said Costello, a Republican.
The reform’s supporters have said it’s inappropriate to link the uptick in crime to the changes that have not been fully implemented. But Costello said it’s not worth the risk to wait.
Costello said she has a draft copy of a bill to repeal the reform and said she plans to pre-file it before next year’s regular Legislative session.
“I think from every point where you shine a light on this issue, there’s a problem with (the reform),” Costello said.
Costello was one of the reform’s sponsors and repeatedly voted for it. But since then, she said people have been constantly asking her to repeal it.
“They’re frustrated and angry, and we have a responsibility to do something about it, now,” she said.
Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, is supporting a partial rollback. He has endorsed a new bill that is on the agenda of next month’s special state legislative session.
State Rep. Lora Reinbold, also a Republican, opposed the reform when it was first brought to the Alaska House and drafted an amendment calling for a repeal. It was not voted on because of opposition from members of the coalition House Majority.
“They sabotaged the process and tabled public safety,” Reinbold said.
Reinbold, like Costello, acknowledges that a repeal will not fix every problem, but she believes it’s a start.
“The justice system is broken at multiple levels and repealing significant parts or all of (the reform) would be a step in the right direction,” she said.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com