House Judiciary chair defends new pretrial tool
It's been nearly a month since Gov. Bill Walker introduced a measure to revamp the state's new pretrial risk assessment tool, but the bill has yet to get a hearing.
Walker's House Bill 295 aims to address some problematic aspects of the new system. One of the biggest ones is that it doesn't take into account any prior criminal history a suspect has from out of state.
That became apparent in the case of Jessica Malcolm. Anchorage police say she was involved in a shootout outside the Northway Mall's Shockwave trampoline park last month.
Malcolm is a convicted felon in California, and had moved to Alaska just two weeks prior. Because she doesn't have criminal history in Alaska, she scored as low-risk on the pretrial tool and a judge released her from state custody.
HB 295 currently sits in the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage), chairman of the committee visited KTVA Saturday to discuss the issue.
During the interview, Claman backed the new pretrial tool, saying that prosecutors could have asked to keep Malcolm in custody.
"One of the features of Senate Bill 54, that we passed last year in a special session, was a provision that specifically allows prosecutors in assault cases to hold a defendant for 48 hours to conduct further investigation," Claman said. "I'm surprised that anybody that was charged with assault, especially shooting at a shopping center, wasn't held on that 48-hour hold to really get every detail possible before making a bail decision."
Claman would not say whether he supports a requirement in the governor's measure that judges take into account out-of-state criminal history when making decisions about bail. He also declined to say when the bill might receive a hearing in his committee.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.