Good news, finally
There finally is good news on the catch-and-release provisions in Alaska’s pre-trial system.
House Bill 312 is moving in the Alaska Legislature. It was approved by the Senate this week and now awaits a House vote on Senate changes.
The measure, among a host of other things, gives judges more authority in deciding pretrial release and scraps mandatory pretrial release requirements.
The measure also would allow judges to consider out-of-state criminal records at bail hearings – something not done under the current pretrial system. That has allowed defendants with extensive Outside criminal histories to make bail.
The Pretrial Risk Assessment system, as it is now, presents a real danger to the public. The assessment is carried out using an algorithm, part of the infamous Senate Bill 91. It depends on a computer weighing several factors to generate 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.
The defendants are rated either low-, medium- or high-risk. Inexplicably, it does not weigh out-of-state criminal history or pending criminal charges in a defendant’s overall score to determine mandatory release.
It is too bad it has taken this long to get legislation moving on correcting the pretrial mess, but it is good news that something – finally – is getting done.