Alaska has some of the highest crime rates in the country. Since 2008, our prisons have grown 27% – three times more than our population. A systemic failure to address the exploding opioid epidemic and substance abuse and decades of ignoring rampant domestic violence and sexual assault collided to leave few of us untouched by crime. What’s worse, two out of three parolees from our prisons will reoffend. Just being tough on crime got us to this point, now we need to be tough AND smart on crime.
- Address Drug Epidemic & Substance Abuse Issues: Drugs or alcohol are involved in the vast of majority of crimes. According to a report released in 2016, 65% of Alaska prisoners suffered from some form of mental health problem while 80% had drug or alcohol addiction. Alcohol and drug abuse are estimated to have an economic cost of $3.1 billion a year. There need to be adequate detox and treatment options that will help combat this disease and keep our communities safer.
- Coordinate State and Local Government Efforts: We need to better coordinate efforts between the State and local governments. Alaskans deserve a proven leader who will bring these groups together and move us towards our shared goal of a safer state. One where you know your car will be in your driveway each morning, and law enforcement officials are well trained and equipped with adequate recourses to keep us safe.
- Reform the Village Public Safety Officers and Village Police Programs: Ensure officials have the training and support to be successful. This means strengthening education and recruitment for troopers, prosecutors, and parole officers. We must also modernize the requirement process to ensure we are getting the level of officers we need to provide the services. A stable, effective police force starts with high standards for applicants and a comprehensive training course that doesn’t cut corners.
- Utilize Innovative Partnerships with Federal Prosecutors: Prosecuting crimes federally ensures maximum impact to crime on the street. We need to equip our federal prosecutors with the resources and tools they need to adequately charge criminals so offenders do not exploit the catch and release program and end up back on our streets.
- Fully Staff the Department of Public Safety and Department of Law: If our departments are under staffed, we cannot properly keep Alaskans safe. Both departments currently have funded, but unfilled positions that are costing taxpayers money without providing the potential increased services.
- Create Rehabilitation and Employment Opportunities: When appropriate, we need to make sure there are rehabilitation and employment opportunities partnering with the private sector and others that help promote a healthy, productive lifestyle and reduce rates of recidivism.