SB91 loophole: No jail time for sex abuse of a minor-- if it's first offense
Lawmakers are looking for the public's input on how to change state criminal law created by Senate Bill 91 last year.
Some of SB91's impacts have surprised even lawmakers and staff that worked closely on the bill.
The current law puts sexual abuse of a minor and car theft in the same category. Right now, neither one is punishable with time in prison-- if it’s a first-time offense.
An analysis by the Alaska Dept. of Law gives a graphic example of what that type of abuse might look like.
"A 22-year-old man befriends a 13-year-old girl, lures her into his house and fondles her naked body or convinces her to touch his penis," the report, provided to members of the House Judiciary Committee, reads.
According to John Skidmore, director of the department, someone who commits that exact crime for the very first time would not be sentenced to any jail time. According to the DOL, that example of sexual abuse of a minor is still a registerable sex offense, under current law.
That’s one of the several loopholes in SB91 that Skidmore is now lobbying for lawmakers to fix through SB 54.
- Increasing penalties for low-level theft
- Creating harsher punishments for a person that violates a judge’s conditions for release
- Reinstating mandatory probation for sex offenders after they are released
- Jail time for first-time, class C felonies -- a category of offense that includes 142 different kinds of crimes, ranging from DOL's example of sexual abuse of a minor to stalking and vehicle theft.
Skidmore says Alaska is one of the only states ever to eliminate jail time for class C felonies. He says that wasn't necessarily the legislature's intent when it passed Senate Bill 91. He describes it as one of several oversights that now need to be corrected.
"For a bill like SB91, which was, I think, something like over a 120 pages long, and there are so many different aspects to it -- that’s a very unwieldily and complicated piece of legislation," Skidmore said. "And, I think what most people described as it went through the process is, because it’s so large, it’s hard to be focused in like a laser on any one provision."
The House Judiciary Committee will take public testimony from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.