Senate crime bill would cost Alaska more than $100 million over first two years. Here’s how.

The Juneau Court House across the street from the Alaska State Capitol building. (Photo by gillfoto/Wikimedia Ccmmons)

Correction: The earlier fiscal notes were unclear with their estimates for prisoner population, confusing total additional inmates with additional inmates above capacity in some places. The original story contained those errors and under-reported the population by 350 inmates in all references. 

The looming “war on criminals” won’t be cheap.

According to the latest cost estimates of the Senate’s version of House Bill 49, the legislation would cost the state more than $101 million over its first two years. The legislation, which is largely in line with Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s proposal for crime, would put more people behind bars for longer.

The legislation is anticipated to cost $44.9 million in the upcoming fiscal year and $56.4 million the following year. Costs would grow slightly and level out in the $58.3 million range for following years.

Its passage is not guaranteed after the House leadership claims they were duped by the administration, claiming the governor and his team didn’t act in good faith on the forming their version of the bill.

House Bill 49 is expected to pass today, setting up a showdown with the House. The final day of the regular session is Wednesday.

Prison growth

The cost of housing the additional offenders is the prime driver of the increased cost of the legislation, with increased costs for the Department of Corrections accounting for $39.5 million of next year’s increases and $51.3 million in the following year.

According to the Department of Corrections’ fiscal notes, the anticipated prison population would outstrip the system’s current capacity of 4,664 inmates. The average population currently sits at 4,314 inmates leaving some additional capacity, which would not be enough for the anticipated increases.

The legislation anticipates 771 new inmates in the first year, 1,086 in the second year and 1,119 the third year. It will require the state reopen the Palmer Correctional Center, according to the fiscal notes.

“If the department’s projections are correct, it will need to reopen the currently shuttered Palmer Correctional Center in order to have the capacity to accommodate the projected increase in inmates,” explained the note. “The general capacity of the Palmer Correctional Center is 503 inmates.”

The facility, which was closed in 2016, would need renovations to reopen. To that end, the total anticipated cost in the upcoming fiscal year is $20.2 million. The cost for operating the facility would level out around $14.1 million every year after that.

No cost to Troopers

While the bill anticipates increased costs for prosecutors, public defenders and the court system, the Department of Public Safety doesn’t anticipate much additional cost. It submitted zero fiscal notes for the Alaska State Troopers and the Village Public Safety Officer Program.

The only additional costs for the Department Public Safety is for additional lab work necessary to meet increased requirements for timely testing of sex assault kits. The fiscal note calls for $342,500 in the first year and $278,800 in every subsequent year. The money would mostly go to two additional lab techs.

By the numbers

We tallied the fiscal notes so you don’t have to. If you’re looking for the explanation of any particular allocation, we’ve also linked the relevant fiscal notes.

All numbers are in thousands, so if you see a comma that means the cost will be in the millions.

Department Agency Allocation FY 20 FY 21 FY 22 FY 23
Administration Legal and Advocacy Services Office of Public Advocacy $694.70 $694.70 $694.70 $694.70
Administration Legal and Advocacy Services Public Defender Agency $1,300.90 $1,300.90 $1,300.90 $1,300.90
Administration DMV DMV $34.40 $14.40 $14.40 $14.40
Corrections Administration and Support Information Technology $175.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Corrections Population management Institutuion Director’s Office $11,078.10 $24,717.70 $26,286.60 $26,344.80
Corrections Population management Palmer Correctional Center $20,203.40 $14,137.40 $14,137.40 $14,137.40
Corrections Population management Statewide Probation and Parole $127.80 $127.80 $0.00 $0.00
Corrections Population management Parole Board $77.30 $77.30 $77.30 $77.30
Corrections Health and Rehab Services Physical health care $7,209.10 $11,451.90 $11,890.10 $11,906.40
Corrections 24-hour institutional utlities 24-hour institutional utlities $876.80 $876.80 $876.80 $876.80
HSS Children’s Services Family Preservation $73.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
HSS Juvenile Justice Probation Services $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Law Criminal Division Criminal Justice Litigation $1,602.70 $1,602.70 $1,602.70 $1,602.70
Public Safety Alaska State Troopers Prisoner Transportation $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Public Safety Village Public Safety VPSO Program $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Public Safety Statewide Support Criminal Justice IT system $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Public Safety Statewide Support Labratory Services $342.50 $278.80 $278.80 $278.80
Transportation Administration and Support Statewide Planning $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Judiciary Alsaka Court Sytem Trial Courts $1,136.50 $1,136.50 $1,136.50 $1,136.50

By Department (Again, all numbers are in thousands)

Department FY 20 FY 21 FY 22 FY 23
Administration $2,030.00 $2,010.00 $2,010.00 $2,010.00
Corrections $39,747.50 $51,388.90 $53,268.20 $53,342.70
HSS $73.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Law $1,602.70 $1,602.70 $1,602.70 $1,602.70
Public Safety $342.50 $278.80 $278.80 $278.80
Transportation $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Courts $1,136.50 $1,136.50 $1,136.50 $1,136.50
Total $44,932.20 $56,416.90 $58,296.20 $58,370.70
Total Cumulative $44,932.20 $101,349.10 $159,645.30 $218,016.00

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3 Comments on "Senate crime bill would cost Alaska more than $100 million over first two years. Here’s how."

  1. Ahhh, didn’t we do this before, to lower the incarcerations cost problem? Now you want to increase the costs again? Putting a person in prison with; drug, alcohol and mental problems won’t work! Well for creating jobs it will! Treatment is the answer as crime surely isn’t going to be cured! Even till the end of time!Creating work and farming people! Ugh!

  2. There is that “for profit justice” I always speak of …. ignorant idiots …. take more money from schools to create more criminals from lack of education and moral fiber … just to profit from incarceration and to fund the legal system

  3. Depending on the severity of the crime should determine the length of time (adjustments made for each additional repeat offense) but the time spent cannot be a vacation, rather a time of strict discipline much like a military boot camp with non of the nice things like TV etc. If they don’t like it, maybe some of them will change. But now, they are walking out before the police are done with the papers, with the parting comments of “we hope you enjoyed your stay, please let us know how we can make your next visit more pleasurable. Have a nice day and hope to see you on your stay. Don’t forget we have bonus points for each stay. Please come again.”
    Where’s the deterrent in all this.

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