Alaska Senate passes bill in response to crime concerns

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The Alaska Senate has approved sprawling legislation in response to public outcry over crime that would strengthen penalties and could force reopening of a shuttered jail to house a projected rise in inmates.

Some of the bill’s supporters say its cost, estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, is worth it.

Some lawmakers questioned if the bill would bring about change and cited challenges with recruiting law enforcement personnel and prosecutors. Still, the final vote was 19-0.

The measure goes back to the House, which will have to decide whether to accept the Senate’s version with an adjournment deadline looming.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has sought to take a hard line on crime and left open working on issues such as addressing recidivism and substance abuse later.