An FBI special agent investigating sex crimes says seven federal prosecutions of human trafficking cases yielded 105 trafficking victims, suggesting a huge problem in The Last Frontier. The victims of trafficking are largely highly vulnerable girls from Alaskan Native communities, who are moved to cities to effectively become sex slaves. While this is a huge problem in Alaska, it’s widely underreported, as girls are often afraid or embarrassed to come forward.
Statistics on human trafficking are included in Alaska’s data on sex crimes, and Senator Lisa Murkowski suggests that as many as one in three Alaskan women have been victimized by these crimes, with Native and homeless girls especially affected.
A new task force in Alaska seeks to eliminate human trafficking by increasing victims services, creating harsher penalties for convicted traffickers, and removing the label of “prostitute” from victims while ensuring court processes are safe, fast and easy to help victims from falling through the cracks.
Crime Trends In Alaska
Overall, Alaska has crime trends similar to the rest of the nation, though certain areas are above the national average. Both violent and property crimes decreased in Alaska in 2011, though some crimes in particular are well above the national average, particularly domestic violence, sexual assaults and alcohol-related offenses.
Alarmingly, a large percentage of crimes in Alaska are targeted crimes against women. In a recent survey, over 59 percent of women had experienced physical violence or threats from a partner, with sexual assaults also being high. Alaska also has higher than average rates of child sexual violence. Perhaps more alarming, these crimes go largely unreported, for reasons law enforcement officials and legislators are trying to shed light on. The police chief of Juneau, Greg Browning, suggests some communities are more apt to report crimes than others; encouraging more women to report crimes against them will be an important step in increasing the safety of Alaska.
Best And Worst Of Alaska
Wasilla, home of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, is the safest Alaskan city, for all who are not moose. With a population of 11,000, Wasilla saw absolutely zero violent crimes in 2011. The other four cities in the “best of Alaska” safety ratings list all jump to around 30 violent crimes. These include Ketchikan, Kenai, Palmer and Sitka, cities with remarkably similar populations and crime statistics.
The least safe city in Alaska is Anchorage, distantly trailed by Fairbanks. With a population nearing 300,000, Anchorage’s 2400 violent crimes is nearly 10 times as high as Fairbanks (240 violent crimes and a population of 36,000). Interestingly, the crime gap between the best and worst cities in Alaska is not huge: The last placed best city had only 30 more violent crimes than the safest worst city (63 in Bethel vs. 34 in Palmer).