When a special commission released its list of recommendations to reform Alaska’s criminal justice system, it was CIRI shareholder and executive Greg Razo who stood at the podium to deliver the findings.
The Alaska Criminal Justice Commission is recommending a bold new approach that could reduce the state’s prison population by 21 percent over the next ten years and save the state approximately $424 million.
“The state is spending more and more money on corrections, without seeing better outcomes,” Razo said at a press conference announcing the release of the commission’s Justice Reinvestment Report. “By strengthening alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, the state can get a better return on investment—meaning fewer crimes and fewer victims.”
The commission is comprised of individuals from the administration of Gov. Bill Walker, state legislators, judges, prosecutors, public defenders and private practitioners. The work of the commission was recommended by the governor and legislators who are facing a massive state budget deficit and fear that, unless something changes, Alaska’s growing prison population will require the need for another expensive, new prison in less than ten years.
“The numbers speak for themselves—we spend 60 percent more on corrections than we did 20 years ago; our prison population has grown 27 percent in the last decade; and two out of three inmates who leave prison return within three years. We can do better, and we must,” said Razo, a former state prosecutor and CIRI’s current vice president of Government Contracting.
The commission’s recommendations will be a major topic in the 2016 Alaska Legislative session that began earlier this month.