California woman who fled after mandatory release gets federal prison time
A California woman who came to Alaska with multiple felony convictions under her belt, then skirted a new and controversial state law, is now sentenced to serve time in federal prison.
In January, Jessica Malcolm was caught with Glock .45-caliber pistol and an extended 30-round magazine in her waistband following a midday shooting outside a popular Anchorage trampoline park.
She scored a zero on the state's risk assessment tool — the lowest score possible — and qualified, at the time, for mandatory release. The score did not take into account her five felony convictions in the state of California.
The judge had no choice, under the law, other than to release Malcolm without requiring her to post any bail under a portion of Senate Bill 91 that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The 27-year-old who had only arrived in Alaska two weeks prior to the shootout was a no-show at her next hearing.
Malcolm's case was pivotal for Alaska, as it was the first to ring alarm bells for the public about the state's use of 'mandatory release' with a risk assessment tool that didn't take into account out-of-state criminal history — a loophole that has since been addressed.
As federal officials became aware of the case, they worked with the state to help, according to Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Stinson.
"Obviously, she's been in the state for a mere two weeks she got involved in a shooting, we believed she was a flight risk and a danger to the community, so we moved quickly to indict her," Stinson said, "By the time we federally indicted her, she had already left the state."
A few months after her release in Alaska, he says Malcolm was picked up by the U.S. Marshall's in Southern California and brought back to Alaska where she was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
"The good thing about federal time is that there's no parole system," Stinson explained. "She'll get 54 days a year of good time maximum, so that's real time in a hard bed."
The recent and increased cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative to combat violent crime, and has targeted felons who are found to be in possession of firearms.
Stinson said Malcolm's fate should serve as a warning to others.
"If people want to come up to Alaska and engage in this type of behavior, we're going to be waiting for them."
In May, the Legislature passed House Bill 312, repealing the mandatory release mechanism put in place by SB 91, and Gov. Bill Walker signed it into law in June.
Out-of-state criminal history still does not affect the score a person gets on the risk assessment, but it is included in the report given to judges, who now have discretion to make findings about when out-of-state history should affect a bail decision.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.