Politics & Government

Alaska's lawmakers to debate anti-crime laws in new session

As lawmakers returned to Juneau for today's start of the legislative session, the Parnell administration announced a package of anti-crime bills to support the governor's 10-year plan to fight domestic violence and sexual assault.

Alaska's rates of rape, child sex abuse and domestic violence are among the worst in the nation.

One measure would close a loophole in the sex offender registry, revamp sentencing for certain sex crimes, and tighten what constitutes possession of child pornography so that just looking at it online would clearly be a crime. Another would make it harder for certain serious offenders to get out on bail. A third bill would provide for convicts who claim innocence to get DNA testing in limited circumstances and to make sure law enforcement agencies hold onto evidence, which can help with cold cases. And Gov. Sean Parnell, in his first session as governor, wants $75 million for a new state crime lab.

"This is a comprehensive plan designed to address all components of this horrible scourge," Attorney General Dan Sullivan told news reporters Monday.

He introduced Marika Athens as the state's first cyber-crime prosecutor, a new position that state Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, pushed for in last year's budget.

Sullivan said the state did a national search for the position but found Athens -- born and raised in Fairbanks -- in its own backyard. She's been a state prosecutor and graduated from Duke University law school, where she served as executive editor of the Alaska Law Review.

Athens, a former teacher, will prosecute some cases herself and guide prosecutors around the state. The job includes going after child exploitation, computer stalking and Internet fraud.

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