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Article Title

Alaska's Lengthy Sentences Are Not the Answer to Sex Offenses

Authors

Margot Graham

Abstract

Individuals convicted of sex offenses in Alaska are serving extremely long sentences in prison. The Alaska legislature made it impossible for those convicted of sex offenses to have their cases referred to three-judge panels for sentencing outside the presumptive sentencing range set by the legislature. The Alaska Supreme Court then held that different forms of sexual penetration are distinct and separate offenses, meaning that the associated charges cannot be merged and the sentences must run consecutively. Thus, Alaska has embraced lengthy sentences for sex offenses. Unfortunately, this punitive practice is doing little to protect Alaskan communities or rehabilitate the people who commit sex offenses. In fact, the Alaska legislature's decision to limit judicial discretion and, in turn, harshen sentences is rooted in unfounded and inaccurate assumptions about those who commit sex offenses. This Note proposes that Alaska's courts should be able to refer sex offense cases to three-judge panels for sentencing outside of Alaska's presumptive sentence ranges, that rehabilitation should replace over-punishment, and that prosecutors should not be able to stack offenses where redundant. Through these solutions, Alaska can protect its communities, help better rehabilitate those who commit sex offenses, and save taxpayer dollars through a more efficient and just criminal justice system.