For several years the so-called "bail reform" movement, led by the private Arnold Foundation, was able to go about its antisocial work largely in the dark. Bail reform was not an issue on most people's minds. So when a state or county somewhere decided to embrace a "catch and release" approach to criminal conduct, it barely made a ripple in the media. However, in the wake, New Jersey's disastrous no-bail experiment and California's 11th-hour adoption of a no-bail system that even the ACLU opposed, awareness of the threat this movement poses finally came to the fore. Just a few weeks ago Alaska became the latest state to send the no-accountability cabal packing when Governor Michael Dunleavy signed legislation overturning Senate Bill 91.
By kicking the Arnold Foundation to the curb where they belong, Alaska joined Florida and Colorado in taking a stand for common sense and victim's rights. And they're not alone. Former New Mexico governor Susana Martinez recently made a very public plea to the people of neighboring Utah not to fall for the dangerous illusion being peddled by the Arnold Foundation and its agents. "New Mexico implemented the Arnold pretrial risk assessment tool to devastating results," she said in a taped message broadcast in Utah. She went on the urge the people of Utah to reject the no-bail catch and release system in their state.
On July 11, 2016 then-Governor Bill Walker signed into law Senate Bill 91. By Alaska standards, this was an enormous piece of legislation encompassing more than 120 pages. The lie sold to Alaskans at the time this bill was adopted was that it would save taxpayers money and improve public safety. It would do these things by:
The reality - as every other state, county and municipality that has tried the no-bail catch and release system has learned - was very different. People released without bail bonding were not showing up for court dates because they had no bail money to lose. Victims were being left waiting in court by defendants who didn’t show up to face the charges against them. The state was losing money trying to track down these fugitives and assaults, robbery, car theft, home invasions and more skyrocketed.
Alaskans demanded a return to sanity and on July 8, 2019 - almost 3 years to the day after SB91 was signed into law - new Governor Michael Dunleavy signed House Bill 49, which essentially repeals SB91. The new bill:
HB49 restores sanity and clarity to the handling of those accused of criminal activity. It restores fairness to the system, keeps dangerous individuals off the streets and - maybe most importantly - addresses the rights of the victims and restores faith in the justice system. In addition, it should be noted that HP49 also toughens sentences for many types of violent crime.
But where did the travesty known as SB91 come from anyway? Was it a home grown movement that derived from local concerns about accused criminals being treated too harshly? No. Was it the result of some damning expose about an allegedly corrupt and greedy bail bonds industry? No. Was it a response to Alaskan citizens demanding social justice for people whose bail was high because they were repeat offenders? No.
Okay, so where did this anti-bondsman, no accountability "movement" come from? Actually, it came from Texas in the briefcase of a Texan trying to make a name for himself. That Texan was Mark Levin, and he decided that Alaska was an easy mark. He would sweep in, promise Alaskans the dawn of a new utopia, get SB91 passed and then return to the lower 48 with his resume padded, leaving Alaskans to deal with the backwash of his self-serving crusade.
The good people of Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County and indeed all of Colorado need to be on their guard against the Mark Levin’s of the world. Professional crusaders like him have already tried to saddle Coloradans with their discredited ideas. And chances are they’ll be coming back to try again sometime soon.
Levin fooled a lot of people in Alaska when he presented himself as a defender of liberty and someone whose policy recommendations "support victims and protect taxpayers." But he's no more a defender of victim's rights and a protector of taxpayers than the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (i.e. North Korea) is "democratic." Alaskans are all better off now that this snake oil salesman's dangerous and costly policies have been shown the door. May he never return.