"We want to ensure that victims of crime are compensated for their loss. Every Alaskan has a constitutional right to receive restitution and this law helps protect that right."
- Rep. Samuels
(Juneau) - Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed the fourth of five bills in a victims' rights package put forth by Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, (R-Anchorage/Eagle River), Representative Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), Representative Ralph Samuels (R-Anchorage), and Representative Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su). HB 357, sponsored by Rep. Samuels, passed the House today by a unanimous vote.
HB 357 requires that judges order criminals to pay restitution in all cases where a victim has suffered financial loss. Currently, restitution is ordered at the discretion of the presiding judge. This legislation seeks to ensure that restitution is paid to all victims, and is done so in a timely manner in order to make the victim whole as quickly as possible.
"We want to ensure that victims of crime are compensated for their loss. Every Alaskan has a constitutional right to receive restitution and this law helps protect that right," said Representative Samuels.
Three other pieces of legislation making up the crime package, HB 348, HB 397 and HB 398, passed the House last week. HB 348, sponsored by Rep. Stoltze, requires that all victims of crime be notified of their rights and the existence of the Office of Victims' Rights.
HB 397, sponsored by Representative McGuire, calls for a change to existing statue to require parental permission before defense attorneys and investigators can question minors, regardless of whether or not the interview is being taped.
Rep. Dahlstrom sponsored HB 398, which will establish Domestic Violence Fatality Review teams in communities throughout Alaska. In doing so, the legislation seeks to collect information and statistics for use domestic violence fatality prevention.
The final bill in the package, HB 349, is designed to promote honest testimony by criminal defendants. The legislation would allow prosecutors to use prior suppressed statements and evidence to cross-examine defendants, thereby preventing the defendants from changing their story on the stand.
HB 349 will be read on the floor Wednesday for the third time.