SB 32 gets tough on druggies, dealers - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 20, 2019
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SB 32 gets tough on druggies, dealers

(4-minute read) AG CLARKSON EXPLAINS ROLLBACK OF SB91 CRIME BILL

Alaska’s attorney general today gave Senate Judiciary Committee members a primer on one of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s bills to crack down on crime — Senate Bill 32.

ILLEGAL DRUGS

Attorney General Kevin Clarkson explained how the bill will strengthen Alaska’s laws that address illegal drugs.

SB 32 makes it a felony to possess the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl,  and other drugs.

The change of crime classification from a misdemeanor to a felony will help incentive drug treatment, Clarkson said.

“Drug seizures are increasing every year and the amount of illegal drugs fueling the opioid epidemic is unacceptable,” he told the committee.

As for trafficking drugs, SB 32 returns the crime to being a Class A and B felony from Class B and C levels, as they are now, under SB 91, the problematic crime bill that lawmakers are trying to undo.

SB 32 also removes quantity as an element of the offense of trafficking. This will help prevent drug traffickers from deliberately keeping just under the possession thresholds in order to avoid consequences for the dangerous drugs found on them.

“If they’re trafficking drugs, they’re trafficking drugs,” Clarkson said. The change will allow judges to impose more time in jail for those convicted of drug trafficking.

SB 32 also addresses the manufacture of meth, with “enhanced sentencing” for meth lab operators who are in close proximity to children.

The practical effect of this portion of the bill is limited: In fact, meth manufacturing has moved to Mexico and, as a consequence, domestic meth lab seizures are the lowest they’ve been in 17 years across the country, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

But SB 32 will have an impact on sentencing. It will return all sentencing ranges to their pre-SB 91 levels, where the levels were reduced in felony and misdemeanor sentencing under SB 91. This change is to give judges the discretion to impose sentences appropriate to the circumstances of the crime.

TERRORISTIC THREATENING

SB 32 addresses threats such as school shootings by establishing a new crime in Alaska: Terroristic threatening. The bill creates a general threat statute so law enforcement can act sooner when a person threatens to harm others.

Currently, Alaska statute has a significant gap, Clarkson said, which makes it difficult to intervene before a person takes steps to carry through with their threats.

REMOVING ANKLE MONITORS

SB 32 creates a new felony offense for removal of an ankle monitor during the pretrial phase or when in custody on a misdemeanor offense.

With SB 91 releasing many criminals onto the streets who are wearing ankle monitors, it became common knowledge in the criminal community that there was no penalty for removing the monitor. Now, it will be a separate criminal offense.

DNA SAMPLE REFUSAL

SB 32 will make it a class a misdemeanor for a person to refuse to provide a DNA sample upon arrest. Clarkson said that the State wants to enter the samples into a database the DNA Identification Registration System that can help investigators solve other crimes.

“Many will recall that it was the DNA registration system that enabled law enforcement and prosecutors to solve the Bonnie Craig murder,” he said.

GENERAL PROBATION

SB 32 increases the maximum level of general probation to ensure offenders are appropriately monitored.

“Alaskans cannot continue down the path of SB 91,” Clarkson said. “Not when the crime rates continue to increase year after year in all categories. We have to be responsive to the public and to the victims of crime.”

SB 32 is a first step in that process, he said. It’s part of a package of Dunleavy bills that are meant to get criminals off the streets.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Keeping campaign promises! Way to go Mike! Now watch this stupid split Legislature screw it up. Budget first, crime second, PFD talks third. Nothing else until these are done and NO SPECIAL SESSIONS. No free money. Go into special session and Legislators should be fined $500 a day per person and get no pay or per diem. Sometimes you need the carrot and the stick.

  • Back in 2012, ABC news did a good story on drunks in Alaska.
    They interviewed Lt. Dave Parker of APD who has since retired after a long career in law enforcement.
    “There are three problems in Alaska: alcohol, alcohol and alcohol,” Parker said.
    I wonder if this concern will get addressed as well?
    A recent news headline listed AK as the worst state with gun violence and our state is also at the top of the list for sexual assaults?
    Almost all of these crimes have Alcohol as a contributing factor.
    “Alcohol is fueling. It’s not the cause, but it’s fueling most of the crime we’re dealing with,” Parker said.
    A young man was recently murdered in the Valley by one of his friends and Alcohol was a factor as well.

  • Our Governor is on a great start but Alaska needs a death penalty for those who have no regard for human life. Excuses are just that and Carry no weight when it comes to murder per capital, Alaska rates the highest because it has no ACCOUNTABILITY in its laws or the courts with the crooked lawyers who’s only concern is winning when the clients are guilty leaving victims scared for life. And the criminal what does he get free hot and a cot free dental free medical free education cable tv, gym, there’s justice for you. Time Governor to step it up!!!

  • If you don’t want to give a DNA Sample, don’t get arrested. 99% of all Crimes committed in Anchorage are Drugs and or Alcohol related.

    • How about a false arrest, or a warrantless arrest, or an arrest without probable cause? And you submit. There go your constitutional rights to privacy……forever. LE does not return your DNA. Asset forfeiture…..your greatest asset is your personhood. Dunleavy goes to far on this bill. You should not be penalized when saying no to DNA submission, without a court order.

      • Agree 100%. Law enforcement will not take your DNA profile off of their data banks. More government control. Dunleavy needs to rein in this part of the bill.

  • I kind of have a problem with taking a DNA sample upon arrest. I’m not on a criminal’s side but more concerned with big brother getting bigger. An arrest on the basis of what? At the point of arrest nothing has been been before any judicial official and what happened to ‘presumed innocent’ until proven guilty? If a person is released from arrest or found not guilty for what ever reason will the sample be removed and destroyed? These need to be thoroughly thought out and evaluated before anything begins to become statute. Even though the legislature writes the laws it is the bureaucrats in the executive agencies that interpret them and twist them into their visions.

    This is a slippery slope issue that should raise the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck.

  • Government cannot eradicate a market. If government is efficient, it can increase the price by limiting supply, assuming demand stays constant.

    Since the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1913, roughly 1.5% of the population has been identified as being addicts or displaying drug-seeking behavior. This figure might increase a little or decrease a little but stays roughly at 1.5%. In the early 70s, Nixon declared war on drugs. Again, the demand has stayed roughly the same, but since that time, the purity of street drugs has increased and the price has decreased. This means that despite literally trillions of dollars spent, there are more drugs available now than before.*

    Contrast that to Portugal. In 2000, Portugal de-criminalized drug possession. Manufacture, distribution and transport remained illegal and they continue to be prosecuted but possession was treated similar to a violation, like a traffic ticket. By any objective criteria, it has been a massive success: drug use has gone down; drug addiction has decreased; drug overdoses have decreased; drug-related work absences have gone down; and accidental deaths related to drugs have likewise decreased. Diseases from sharing drugs, such as Hepatitis and HIV, have likewise decreased. Is everything perfect? No, but there is at least objective evidence that it works better than continued use of the criminal justice system:

    chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf

    I am not saying that drugs are harmless or that they are a good lifestyle choice. But we have been using the criminal justice system to treat essentially a medical issue for the past 100+ years and it is not working. So our answer is: do more! Our drug problem is not going to be fixed by following a failed policy.

    * The three variables are demand, supply and price. Price reflects the relationship between demand and supply. If demand remains constant and supply increases, price goes down, which is why I say that the supply of drugs is greater than before starting the drug war.

  • I don’t agree with punishing someone for not providing DNA upon arrest; upon conviction is another story. As proposed, they are just fishing.

  • What has happened to the promise of an increase in detox beds/facilities and an increase in rehab services for those without insurance and /or Medicaid? There are many that wait as part of a seemingly endless list of names for the few beds available here. In the mean time, these individuals must fund their addiction or die trying. Not all crimes are committed by addicts, but, let’s face it, a lot of them are.

  • Let’s overfill the prisons some more and then we can shop them to Arizona again. Then they can meet the cartels and really flood the state with dope.

  • Many of the very people in Juneau who REFUSED to repeal SB91 between’16 and ’18 are still in there, meanwhile people in anchorage were shot up, burglarized, beat up, terrified….so the stories got to them and here we sit. Birch, Claman, Drummond, Edgemon, Fansler, Foster, Gara, Grenn, Guttenberg, Johnston, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kito, Knopp, Kopp, Tomkins, Ortiz, Parish, Seaton, Spohnholz, Stutes, Talerico, Tarr, Thompson, Tuck Westlake, Wool.

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