Legislature Debates Crime Bill Tweaks

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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 SB 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."