Senate votes to overhaul AK criminal justice system

The Senate voted 14 to 5 today to approve a sweeping overhaul of Alaska’s criminal justice system. The action sends the bill to Governor Bill Walker’s desk.

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Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, at a Senate Majority press availability, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, March 21, 2016. Coghill says the bill is driven both by consensus among the Criminal Justice Commission as well as social science research. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Senate Bill 91 would allow some low-risk nonviolent offenders to avoid jail time. It also would establish a new pretrial services program with a goal of reducing recidivism. And it would allow those in treatment programs to receive credit for time served instead of imprisonment.

Bill sponsor North Pole Republican Senator John Coghill says the bill was driven by a consensus among members of the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. He also says that it draws on social science research. And Coghill says legislators will continue to make changes to the system.

Walker says he’s eager to review the bill.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at

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