DOC Commissioner: Important part of SB 91 hasn’t gone into effect yet
Alaskans’ frustration with crime is evident in their emotional and desperate demands for change at recent public meetings, many calling on lawmakers to trash crime reform law, Senate Bill 91, and start from scratch, but Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams says repealing the legislation would be “misinformed.”
“The law is not even in place yet,” he said during a sit-down interview with KTVA.
Williams is referring to the Pretrial Enforcement Division, what he calls “the most important” component of SB 91.
The division is made up of 60 armed officers -- jobs that didn’t exist until SB 91.
“It’s critical that people understand we're putting 60 armed officers on the street to deal with pretrial people,” said Williams, asking, “How many people know that? How many people know that that is a part of the legislation?”
Pretrial enforcement officers will determine who is a good candidate for release following an arrest, and then monitor those individuals to make sure they show up for court dates.
“They're also making decisions up front that are not based on people's ability to pay money, but on the risk. This is a significant change, one way overdue, one that's been recommended in this state for many, many years,” said Williams.
He says the division will allow low-risk individuals who commit an offense, to go back to work on Monday while keeping those who could be a danger to the public in custody.
As lawmakers prepare to look at SB 54 in the upcoming, fourth special session the legislature has had this year, Williams says he supports the tweaks to SB 91 that would give police officers more tools to use, but is against throwing out the legislation altogether.
“I need everybody to sort of hang on and let this take effect, let this very important piece of the law get in place so I can get my officers on the streets helping local law enforcement keep the public safe,” said Williams.
The officers have been going through an academy, training for the job that starts in January of 2018.