To see how state budget cuts are affecting Alaska’s legal system, head to Juneau’s courthouse and search the court calendar for misdemeanor drug crimes.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find one.
The Alaska Department of Law has all but stopped prosecuting misdemeanor drug offenses in Juneau that aren’t linked to a more serious crime. The City and Borough of Juneau, which has taken over prosecution of most misdemeanors in the city, doesn’t take drug cases.
“That is a category of offenses that falls into sort of a no-man’s land,” District Attorney Angie Kemp told the Empire.
It’s perhaps the most glaring example of a problem facing Juneau, and Alaska as a whole. Facing a $2.7 billion annual budget deficit, lawmakers have acted to cut costs. Some of those cuts have fallen on Alaska’s public safety departments even as those same departments try to cope with a crime wave linked to Alaska’s ongoing epidemic of drug addiction.