In a long awaited move, Alaskan authorities announced their decision to transform the state’s criminal justice system. While talking to reporters at a press conference held in Anchorage, it was announced that the system which took a tough approach to dealing with crime and criminals would now take the right steps to curbing crime and changing criminal behavior.
The data analysis which formed the basis of the decision to overhaul the ailing yet extremely expensive criminal justice system of Alaska was conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust and most of the findings were quite worrisome. For instance, it was found that correctional spending has increased by almost 60% in the last 20 years while the Alaska prison population rose by nearly 30% in that time.
However, the most disturbing finding was that a large part of the inmate population comprised of non-violent offenders. Also, approximately 25% of the people being held in the correctional system were in fact pretrial inmates who have not been tried or sentenced. What jolted legislators into action is the fact that if the trend continues, there would be a mammoth increase of almost 30% in correctional spending by 2024, which would end up costing the state as much as $170 million.
The review and the data are meant to serve as a foundation for framing policy change recommendations. The Criminal Justice Commission of the state, which is 13 member body, will closely analyze what went wrong and what steps can be taken to mend the situation. Their recommendations will then be kept before lawmakers at the start of the legislative assembly in January, 2016.
Based on the suggestions, bills will be floored with the specific motive of reducing correctional budgets and prison population, while keeping the society safe. If these bills are passed, Alaska will join the league of nearly 24 states which have already enacted transformative criminal justice reforms.