Governor Mike Dunleavy today announced that he will present the Legislature with a crime bill next session to target the fentanyl crisis in Alaska. Earlier this year, Governor Dunleavy tasked his Administration with developing strategies to protect Alaskans from the scourge of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced illegal opioids. This announcement is the first part of a holistic approach to combatting this epidemic.
Under Governor Dunleavy’s proposal, if a person dies as a result of ingesting a controlled substance, the individual that sold or distributed that controlled substance can be charged with Murder in the Second Degree (which is an unclassified felony with a sentencing range of 15 – 99 years). Additionally, an individual sentenced to a drug dealing-related crime will have their eligibility for “good time” parole restricted.
“Public safety has and will continue to be our number one priority. These drug dealers are killing Alaskans with illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced illicit opioids,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We need to use every tool at our disposal to hold these dealers accountable to the fullest extent possible. By increasing criminal penalties and eliminating good time credit for dealers of illicit drugs, our prosecutors can do better.”
“Given the ongoing damage to our communities caused by illicit drugs and the increased lethality posed by fentanyl,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “Justice demands that we adjust criminal penalties accordingly in order to better protect Alaskans.”
“The increased penalties in this new legislation ought to make those individuals that are trafficking these dangerous and deadly drugs –sit up and take notice– and think about a life sentence in prison,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “The Department of Public Safety has a dedicated team of Alaska State Troopers and law enforcement officers committed to tracking down drug dealers who clearly have no regard for human life, and anyone that continues to distribute fentanyl and other illicit drugs in our Alaska Communities.”
“Going forward, I remain committed to tackling this problem from all angles – law enforcement, education, and prevention, as well as treatment and recovery,” said Governor Dunleavy.
Lastly, Governor Dunleavy’s proposal would also establish a vehicular homicide statute within Alaska’s criminal code. Currently, Alaska’s criminal statute does not have a specific vehicular homicide statute. Therefore, State prosecutors are faced with bringing manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or murder in the second-degree charges in the event of a homicide involving a vehicle.
This has led to a wide variety of sentences handed down by judges. Creating a standalone vehicular homicide class of offenses would help alleviate some of this disparity, while also complying with Alaska case law.