Crime bill under debate in Legislature

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - In Juneau, members of the Alaska House of Representatives continued work today on modifications to a controversial crime bill.
Senate Bill 54 would make revisions to the omnibus crime legislation known as Senate Bill 91, which has been a subject of debate since it went into effect in July of 2016.
In a House Finance Committee hearing today, state Department of Law representative, John Skidmore, spoke about criticisms some have leveled against S-B 91.
He said that contrary to popular belief, the bill didn't reduce the ability of police to arrest criminals; but it *was true that some of its provisions made officers unlikely to arrest suspects who would soon be released.
John Skidmore; State Department of Law Representative>>: "We're not giving officers additional discretion to arrest in (SB) 54, because they don't need additional discretion to arrest. But in SB 54, when you authorized a [potential jail sentence for those first-time class C felonies, there's discretion for the courts to use. Now a court will not automatically say, 'I'm going to release this person,' a court would say, 'what's the appropriate bail for me to be setting in that particular case.' So (SB) 54 does provide a tool to help address one of those problems with implementation that occurred."