Anchorage Assembly hears out more SB 91 concerns
The Anchorage Assembly hosted a special work session Saturday, giving fed-up residents another chance to voice their concerns on state criminal-justice reform law Senate Bill 91.
Assembly Chair Dick Traini says it's pretty unusual for the body to gather on a Saturday to hear from the public. SB 91 has become a hot-button issue due to a recent rise in Alaska crime rates, and many Alaskans can't get to Juneau to speak in front of the state Legislature -- so letting them be heard at the Assembly chambers was an alternative.
One by one, residents stood at the podium to tell their story.
"On July 3rd my home was burglarized, and my family and I became a victim of crime," said one woman. "The police took seven hours to get to my house."
"I can't go somewhere and leave my dog in the car, because some bum is going to steal my dog and sell it on Craigslist," said another resident. "It does not matter what part of the Anchorage Bowl you live in -- we are not safe."
At one point, security guards were called in to remove a woman who exceeded her three minutes of talking time, but she soon finished and returned to her seat.
A few new draft resolutions, both backed by Traini, were circulated at the meeting.
In one, Assembly member Eric Croft calls for more prosecutors. He and Traini are also pushing for more alcohol and drug treatment program funding, as well as probation.
In the other resolution, Assembly member Amy Demboski urges the Legislature to repeal SB 91 in its entirety.
"I think a lot of Anchorage citizens are saying, 'You went too far with SB 91; it's time to put the brakes on,'" Demboski said. "Stop, let's implement the good parts, but it starts with a full repeal."
Downtown Anchorage resident Cesar Martison used his time at the podium to decry SB 91's effects on the community.
"We have got to protect victims," Martison said. "We have got to protect public safety and Senate Bill 91 has created an environment where crime is thriving, and it is putting people's lives and people's property in jeopardy."
SB 91 might see a few changes in the upcoming weeks, as the Legislature convenes to discuss the bill in its fourth special session this year. State representatives Charisse Millett and Geran Tarr also attended Saturday's work session to hear the testimony.
The new Assembly resolutions will be introduced at the next Assembly meeting scheduled for Tuesday. The public will get another chance to speak on them on Oct. 24.