Republican Governors Association blasts Walker for increase in crime
Governor Bill Walker drew sharp criticism from his former political party after the FBI's Uniform Crime Report showed an increase in crime across the state.
On Wednesday, the Republican Governors Association blasted Walker, a former Republican turned independent, for the data.
"Alaskans need a governor who takes action to keep them safe, but under Governor Bill Walker's failed leadership, the state has only become more dangerous," the group said in a press release.
Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Walker, said he was unavailable for an interview on the topic Wednesday. Jang sent a written statement instead:
"Building a Safer Alaska is a top priority for Governor Walker. He addressed the opioid epidemic with, first, a disaster declaration that prioritized state response, sponsored and signed legislation to control the distribution of opioids, and donated one-third of his salary to the purchase and training of drug dogs. Governor Walker also ordered an immediate review of the backlog of sexual assault evidence. He added Senate Bill 54 to the legislature’s special session call to give courts the ability to impose jail-time for class-C felonies and give law enforcement better tools to address crime in Alaska," Jang wrote.
In 2016, lawmakers approved an overhaul of the state's criminal justice system, Senate Bill 91, based on the recommendations of Alaska's Criminal Justice Commission. The new law has drawn criticism from law enforcement and the district attorney's office.
Walker is calling lawmakers back to Juneau for a special session next month to consider a bill that would revise the law, Senate Bill 54.
"Clearly, the crime report shows we can’t wait until next year," Walker told reporters at a press conference earlier this month, where he announced SB 54 would be added to the special session call.
"This isn’t something we’ll get to next year when we can get to it, this is something we need to get to now," Walker said. "Law enforcement prosecutors need more tools to work with, and that’s what SB 54 provides. SB 54 shouldn’t be controversial or partisan, it’s how we make Alaska a safer place."
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