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Alaska’s common-law probation system requires that the period of supervision imposed is accompanied by a suspended term of imprisonment. Violation of probation conditions may trigger this suspended term, sending the probationer to prison. Should the probationer complete the entire suspended sentence, he or she is then usually eligible for discharge from probation. In Chinuhuk v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court held that the state legislature had abrogated this traditional scheme with respect to felony sex offenders, replacing it with one that allowed probation to continue although the offenders had completed their suspended terms of imprisonment. This Comment argues that in so doing, the court closed its eyes to any ambiguity in the operative statute, bypassing the rule of lenity’s lessons and enforcing a more punitive result than the legislature may have intended to create.
Kate Goldberg & Macklin Willigan, Meaningless or Mandatory?: Automatic Probation’s Revival and the Rule of Lenity’s Fall in Chinuhuk v. State, 38 Alaska Law Review 157-169 (2021)
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol38/iss1/7