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.

2 Responses to Good news, finally

  1. Andree McLeod May 11, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    How complacent have we become when government strips away our constitutional rights of due process protections and we do nothing?

    Lawmakers have willfully and intentionally stripped away constitutionally protected rights of due process.

    House Bill 312 is, in part, an Act relating to arrest without a warrant for assault in the fourth degree at a health care facility.

    It impacts everyone, especially people who live with brain illness and cognitive impairments, such as autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, and mental illness, among other brain illness.

    Buried within HB 312, and missing from the media clamor, is the stripping away of constitutionally protected rights of due process of individuals that relate to arrests.

    By law, warrants have to be obtained before an arrest is made.

    HB 312 unilaterally removes that requirement for police officers to obtain warrants before making arrests when fourth degree assaults are committed at medical facilities, which includes subjective behavior like threats.

  2. Andree McLeod May 12, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    HB 312 impacts every one of us.

    If you were to taken to an emergency room after a ski fall or sport injury, or trekking, or bike or motorcycle accident, and you will tell hospital staff until you’re blue in the face that you’re not seeking treatment….

    or if you’re a family member who’s accompanying someone who’s had a heart attack or other emergency, and you raise your voice or become agitated at the inept performance of some medical facility employee…..

    In the midst of all the confusion, disorientation, fear and chaos…
    you could get arrested without the protections and rights of due process.

    With the passage of HB 312, these kinds of behaviors like getting highly upset and anxious and raising your voice at hospital staff can be construed as threatening behavior, which fits the definition of fourth degree assault, and you might just get ‘randomly’ arrested without a warrant….because some employee ‘felt’ that you’re threatening them.

    Imagine, one trip to the hospital and you could end up a criminal with a criminal record.

    Don’t be bamboozled by Reps. Claman and Kopp’s disingenuous talking points in defense of this egregious bill.

    Call the governor and tell him NOT to sign this bill until this is fixed now…not later like politicians always promise they will do.


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