State budget cuts have dominated the news for months, but one state department has money to spend. The Alaska Department of Corrections is looking to hire dozens of officers for a new department called Pre-trial Services.


Pre-trail Services is a direct offshoot of Senate Bill 91, the legislation that made big changes to Alaska’s Criminal Codes. The new rules mean many people who’ve been charged with crimes will be no longer be held in jail while they wait for their trials or sentencing dates.


Pre-trail Services Officers are responsible for determining who’s a good candidate for release, as well as monitoring people to make sure they show up in court.


Training Officer Greg Stocker said public safety will be the first consideration on whether someone gets out of jail.


“Those folks who were too dangerous to let out in the community before, we aren’t interested in letting them out now just because of SB 91,” said Stocker. “There’s still going to be public safety at the forefront of our evaluation process.”


But the new legislation is also considered a cost saving measure for the Department since people can wait months, even years before they get to trial. DOC officer Caroline Stevens said the costs can add up and not just for the person who’s been charged with a crime.


“Because some of our offenders who come in are sole providers for their families, so, if we take them out of the community they lose their job, they lose their housing,” said Stevens. “We don’t have to worry about one offender, we have to worry about the entire family.”


The state is looking to hire 45 pre-trail officers as soon as possible. Department Spokeswoman Megan Edge said some of the positions have already been filled, but not all. She said the jobs pay well, averaging about $92,000 a year including salary and benefits.