Senate Bill 91

Written by Heather Penn


“Senate Bill 91 limits the use of incarceration in all phases of the criminal justice process. Incarceration is initially limited by reclassifying certain criminal conduct to lower level offenses. For example, under current law most illegal drug possession is a class C felony. SB 91 reclassifies all drug possession, except possession of the “date rape drug,” as class A misdemeanors and mandates no active term of imprisonment for the first offense. SB 91also increases the felony threshold for property crimes from $750 to $1,000 and mandates no active term of imprisonment for lower level property crimes under $250. Additionally, SB 91 decriminalizes several misdemeanor offenses by classifying them as violations and limits prosecution of prostitution and sex trafficking in the third degree with new defenses or by redefining elements. All of these measures will limit the use of incarceration as a sanction by redefining the unlawful conduct encompassed by those offenses.” Craig W. Richards Attorney General summarizing the bill for Governor Bill Walker

October 8, 2016: At 2am a call went out to police about a local small business currently experiencing a “burglary in progress.” The call came from inside the “Desert Passage” store as the owner and her husband stood armed and ready for the burglar to come through the ceiling. He had been steadily pulling roof tiles off the duration of the call and stopped when the police arrived less than two minutes later. The burglar jumped off the roof and into the adjacent slough, where he was then apprehended by police with the aid of a K9.


Luckily for Smith she had been in the store that night anticipating a possible break-in. A few days prior a fellow storeowner noticed metal siding on the back wall of the building had been torn off as if someone had attempted to get through the wall. Smith and her husband decided to stay at the store in case someone tried to break in again. “I needed to defend my livelihood,” said Smith.


The suspect, a known heroin addict was found to be in violation of his parole and had five other cases pending. He had been pulling the break-in, grab and go act for quite some time. Smith hoped this might be the offense that stopped his spree. Sadly, that was not correct as the suspect was released a few months later with a mere ticket for the incident.


“Alaska’s law enforcement officers and victim advocates see the harm this bill will cause. The bill also effectively legalizes theft, by making it impossible for anyone to receive a day of jail time for theft as long as the amount is under $250 – no matter how many times the person has stolen in the past. This is a declaration of war on Alaska businesses – and the costs will be passed on to customers who choose to obey the law. SB 91 endangers the public by returning more criminals to the streets faster; it trivializes serious crimes by reducing or eliminating serious sentences; it denies crime victims the right to be protected by meaningful bail conditions and by forcing them to continue fighting for protection through the parole process; it effectively legalizes theft, raising the cost of doing business and effectively taxing the innocent to benefit criminals; and it abandons those most in need of reformation by removing any incentive to seek help.”

~Representative Lora Reinbold the Alaska Star


About the author

Heather Penn

1 Comment

  • any word on this bill,

    I think we should Immediately start a Petition to have mandatory Minimums on theft, or a hold untill witness identification, or hold until trial

Leave a Comment