Press Release

Department of Law Secures Funding for Statewide Rural Prosecution Support Team

October 17, 2005

(Anchorage) – Attorney General David Márquez announced today that the Department of Law was awarded a federal grant to fund the creation of statewide rural prosecution support team.

In late September the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs notified the Attorney General's office that it would receive nearly $2 million over the next three years to create and fund the rural prosecution team. The Alaska Legislature previously approved the budget plan that allowed the department to accept this money and integrate it into its existing budget.

"Our rural communities endure an unacceptable level of violent crime fueled by alcohol consumption and abuse," said Márquez. "For the past few years Governor Murkowski and the Department of Law have worked hard to strengthen laws targeting bootlegging and improving our local option laws so that communities and law enforcement can choke off the supply of illicit alcohol. With this funding we can attack alcohol-induced crimes before and after the fact."

In 1997, 100% of defendants committing homicides in Western Alaska had consumed alcohol. Alcohol was also a factor in 66% of felony assaults, 62% of misdemeanor assaults, 54% of sexual assaults, 48% of offenses against minors and 21% of sexual abuse cases involving minors.

"Alcohol is a root cause of many violent crimes in rural Alaska," said Deputy Attorney General Susan Parkes, head of the Criminal Division. "Alcohol abuse and crime victimize too many of the state's smaller communities and this funding will give us the resources to become even more proactive in protecting the residents of rural Alaska."

The funding will allow the creation of a rural prosecution team based out of Anchorage. The team will provide direct support as needed to rural communities statewide. The team will consist of three prosecutors, one victim-witness paralegal, and one law office assistant.

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