Do something

While the Alaska Legislature embarrasses itself wrestling over criminal justice policy and whether to repeal or fix Senate Bill 91 – or simply leave it alone –  it has limited discussion on a proposal from Gov. Bill Walker to fix the bail system that uses an algorithm to determine who gets bail and who does not.

That is a mistake and it is endangering Alaskans.

Senate Bill 91 – in some quarters called the “catch and release law” – was in large part passed last year to save the state money and put a dent in the state’s criminal recidivism rate. There were supposed to be programs and other help available for criminals to help keep them out of jail, but those never materialized.

The Pretrial Risk Assessment System part of the law is a real danger. It uses an algorithm in bail assessment. A computer weighs several factors and generates a number between one and 10 for a defendant indicating the likelihood he or she will show up for court hearings or commit new crimes.

Based on that number,  defendants are rated low-, medium- or high-risk. A problem: The algorithm does not factor in out-of-state criminal history or pending criminal charges in the score. Because of that, defendants are being released who perhaps should not be and judges’ hands are tied.

A recent example: Two suspected car thieves with a loaded gun were arrested. Neither had convictions in Alaska, but one had a vehicle theft case pending from last year. One was on the run to avoid a forgery case trial. A few hours after being arrested both qualified for mandatory release.

Then, there is Jessica Malcolm. She is the California woman charged after midday gunfight between two groups outside the Northway Mall, near a trampoline park frequented by children and families.

When arrested, she possessed a Glock .45-caliber handgun and a 30-round magazine. She was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a class C felony.

Despite an earlier California felony conviction, Malcolm scored zero, was determined to be low risk and qualified for mandatory release. She then missed two scheduled court hearings. She, too, is a danger to the public.

It seems to us that while crime seemingly is out of control in Anchorage changing the feel of the city, the very least our erstwhile lawmakers could do is their job.





2 Responses to Do something

  1. Observer April 11, 2018 at 10:59 am

    If Mayor Berkowitz was concerned about any of this, he would be in Juneau right now meeting with Anchorage legislators and in particular Rep. Matt Claman. It does not take a degree from Harvard to understand that SB 91 is fatally flawed.

    Perhaps the Mayor could explain to us how more police will keep us safer if criminals are simply arrested and released. How does that work, Mr. Mayor?

  2. Marge April 12, 2018 at 7:39 am

    The Mayor, the Legislators, the Judicial System do not care about the citizens of Alaska. It is all about money and the one with the most money wins. The criminals in this State are in charge. Instead of running jails we now run hotels for themThey have more rights than the average Alaska Citizen.


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