- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A supporter of Alaska’s sweeping criminal justice legislation is no longer a member of a commission that has recommended changes to the law.

Juneau Police Department Lt. Kris Sell declined to comment after she resigned from the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission, the Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2lYszOA).

Commissioners provided input for a law that focused on punishments outside of prison or jail time.

Sell was a vocal proponent of the legislation approved last year. She told a Senate committee Jan. 25 that her time on the commission helped shape her views on criminal justice and factor in underlying causes like mental illness and addiction.

“I had to come to a place in my own reasoning . where being tough on crime was actually just being tough on people and not treating the reasons they are committing more crime,” she said. “The underlying cause remains unaddressed.”

Sell acknowledged budget issues made the law’s goals difficult to reach. “Things aren’t in place yet,” she said. “It’s a rough time.”

Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson said that although Sell was dedicated and did a great job as a commissioner, she resigned knowing her stance on the law differed from the department’s view. “She knew that what we were thinking, and what she was thinking was a little bit different, and so she decided to resign,” Johnson said.

The law raised concerns about sentencing options. “It didn’t make sense that there was no jail option,” Johnson said of one of the sentencing provisions.

Changes to the legislation were introduced Jan. 30.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com


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