"An Act relating to a pilot project to review and investigate certain complaints from victims of sexual assault in the first degree or sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree concerning actions of justice agencies. "
"According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report, Alaska has the highest per capita rate of reported rapes. However, Alaska's rate of arrest is almost half the national average."
- Sen. Bunde
SB 134 expands the Office of Victims' Rights (OVR) investigation and advocate rights and responsibilities. Currently, if a victim of sexual abuse or assault is unsatisfied with the speed or thoroughness of their investigation, he or she has no real recourse or options for seeking additional help.
SB 134 allows OVR to intercede on behalf of the victim if necessary in cases involving unclassified sexual assault or sexual abuse investigations. This legislation provides OVR with the same rights and responsibilities while handling these cases as they do with their current court cases. In SB 134, the attorneys with OVR are charged with determining if there has been negligence in the reported investigations and assisting the victim if so. Given the Office of Victims' Rights' current responsibilities, SB 134 is a natural extension in providing Alaskans with the greatest victim protection services possible. This legislation is a pilot program, set to end in September 2008. At this point, the Legislature along with OVR will determine if the investigation rights are necessary or if they should be expanded.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR), Alaska has the highest per capita rate of reported rapes. In 2003, our 600 reported rapes equaled a rate of 92.5 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants. Michigan, ranking as the second highest state, had 54.1 reported rapes per 100,000 inhabitants. To summarize, Alaska's per capita rape rate is nearly 71% greater than that of the next highest state.
However, Alaska's rate of arrest is almost half the national average. On a national average, 28 arrests are made for every 100 reported rapes. In Alaska, 17 arrests are made for every 100 reported rapes (2003 UCR). Nationwide, it is calculated that a sex offender will go to prison for only 6 out of every 100 sexual assaults-per capita, convictions in Alaska are most likely less common.
Under current practices, crime victims and the public at large have no direct method to question the practices of police investigations or conduct. In larger municipalities, a victim may file a complaint; however, in most cases, all proceedings with the complaint are kept private within the police department and the victim has no formal recourse or resolution. In smaller, rural areas, there is no department in which to file the complaint. Often times, there are only one or two peace officers in the area. This truly leaves the victim without recourse. This bill provides crime victims a place to bring complaints regarding an officer's conduct and assures the public that officers are held accountable for unclassified sexual assault and sexual abuse investigations.