House approves sweeping criminal justice overhaul

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — After dozens of hours of testimony and debate, lawmakers in the state House voted overwhelming in favor of a massive overhaul of the criminal justice system.

    Posted Thursday, May 5th, 2016 5:57pm by Lance David

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — After dozens of hours of testimony and debate, lawmakers in the state House voted overwhelming in favor of a massive overhaul of the criminal justice system.

    Sponsor North Pole Sen. John Coghill seeks to re-orient the state's criminal justice system away from costly jail terms and into community-based treatment programs. It passed 28-11 on Thursday.

    The bill was based on reforms suggested by a state criminal justice commission. It recommended reduced sentences and a presumption of citation instead of an arrest for misdemeanors. It is expected to save the state millions by reducing its prison population. It also funds treatment programs with a portion of the state's marijuana tax revenue.

    Opponents say they do not want to close the state's $4 billion budget gap by emptying prisons.

    The bill next heads back to the Senate for a concurring vote.

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