Under a headline that reads, “Alaska needs real progress on rural justice. Will Attorney General Barr help deliver it?” the Anchorage Daily News editorial begins:
“The state’s rural communities have seen roundtable discussions and blue-ribbon panels, action plans and campaign promises. They need solutions, ones that work.”
Those very communities are the solution – the only solution. Nobody but those living in those communities can solve their drug- and alcohol-fueled violence problem. Nothing will improve until they demand it improve. State officials, Barr and well-meaning Alaskans can only help from the sidelines.
The lack of police officers and jails in the Bush only exacerbates the problem, but even if there were ample cops and detention facilities, the violence is not going to end until the alcohol and drug epidemic is addressed. Anchorage, after all, has cops and a jail and much, if not most, of its crime appears to have alcohol or drug components.
We are pleased that Barr chose Alaska as the first state he would visit as attorney general, and it is good that he got a first-hand look at the state’s shocking rural criminal justice system; that he saw the magnitude of the problems. It is better than good that he appears determined to help in any way he can.
Perhaps Barr can find a way to empower rural communities to act on their problems and the money to assist them. We hope he can. Perhaps the state can and should do more. But if those communities are looking for a long-term solution they need only look in a mirror.