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.