Friday, December 8, 2017

Prof. Brandeis discusses marijuana policy at CLE today

Prof. Jason Brandeis
Alaska is now among eight states that have legalized commercaial marijuana use and sale for adults. However, marijuana use, possession, and sale remains generally illegal under federal law. This ongoing tension presents numerous legal challenges and questions for businesses operating in the marijuana industry, for recreational and medicinal marijuana users, for government regulatory agencies tasked with overseeing and managing these markets, and for attorneys who work in this field.

Professor Jason Brandeis, Justice Center faculty,  is giving two presentations on these ongoing marijuana law and policy issues at today's continuing legal education (CLE) event titled Recreational Marijuana Law In Alaska. Professor Brandeis' first presentation, "Federal Responses to Alaska Marijuana Law," will discuss constitutional preemption and the Controlled Substance Act, how federal agency policy decisions affect state marijuana markets, current federal marijuana enforcement priorities, and the impact of federal marijuana prohibition on state agencies receiving federal funding.

Professor Brandeis is also giving a presentation on the ethical issues that marijuana legalization poses for attorneys. This presentation, covering marijuana and the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct, satisfies part of the Alaska Bar Association's legal ethics education requirement.

Prof. Brandeis teaches courses on the American legal system, constitutional law, and civil liberties, and is a frequent speaker on constitutional law and other legal topics.  Prof. Brandeis also maintains a private law practice through which he advises clients on marijuana law and policy questions.  He has also provided legal services to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Troy Payne talks about how social media crime reports can distort world view

Dr. Troy C. Payne, Justice Center faculty,  discussed the ability of social media reports of crime to distort people's view of the world in a recent story in the Anchorage Daily News about the uptick in social media reports of crime.
Dr. Troy C. Payne, Justice faculty

Although there are few academic studies about the impact of social media crime reports, one recent study found that the amount of time that people consume social media about crime influences how they feel about their community, according to Dr. Payne.

"People who use social media are more likely to feel unsafe," Payne said. They may not see crime personally, but when they "look on their Facebook feed, or Nextdoor, they see crime all over the place."

"It can have this really strange distorting effect on how we view the world," Payne said.

While crime in some categories, such as car theft, is increasing, when combined with social media accounts, you have the perfect environment for people to perceive crime as pervasive, Payne said.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Northern Light cites Alaska Victimization Survey to highlight efforts to address intimate partner violence and sexual assault

The Northern Light used the 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey (AVS) to underscore the need to address intimate partner violence and sexual assault, stating that nearly one in two Anchorage women experience intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or both in their lifetime.

Keeley Olson, executive director of Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), added that rates of child sexual abuse in Alaska are six times higher than those in the lower 48 and that once someone is harmed, they are more likely to be harmed again. It is very important to prevent the first occurrence of sexual violence, she said.

Open communication is important. “As it becomes more mainstream to speak about it, the stigma and blame will dissipate. If everyone would express belief and offer support to those impacted, rather than laying blame, or making excuses, it would make a world of difference,” Olson said in the Northern Light article.

The article listed several initiatives at UAA that are increasing awareness about intimate partner violence and sexual assault including the mandatory Title IX training and the Take Back the Night March in September. UAA has also done 21 bystander training presentations according to Betty Bang, a nurse practitioner at the Student Health and Counseling Center. The goal is to help students get involved in intervening. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Alaska Justice Information Center provides research necessary for evidence-based policy making

The Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) is well-positioned to provide Alaska policy makers and lawmakers with the information and research necessary to make evidence-based decisions, according to Brad Myrstol, AJiC director, in recent stories published in Alaska Business Monthly and Cordova Times.  AJiC released its first major report, the Alaska Results First Initiative, in October, and legislators have called upon Myrstol to provide information about crime rates numerous times this fall.

Nationally, and in Alaska, policy makers have historically relied upon "gut-feel" rather than data, according to Myrstol. That trend is changing and AJiC is making it possible for lawmakers to dig deeper and get the information they need to support policy decisions.  This year AJiC is building an integrated Alaska justice platform, a repository for justice data routinely collected by criminal justice agencies in Alaska. The platform will make it possible for AJiC to help answer the complex questions Alaska lawmakers face when creating justice policy for Alaskans.

--"How UAA’s Justice Information Center Is Using Data to Help Policymakers" by Catalina Myers.
Cordova Times (9 Nov 2017). (
Alaska Business Monthly (9 Nov 2017). (

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Legal Ethics students participate in diversity luncheon

Students in Prof. Deb Periman's  Legal Ethics class A215 were invited to participate in the 2017 Diversity Luncheon titled: Diversity in Our Community: Stories Affecting Our Lives. Senior Justice Dana Fabe, Retired Alaska Supreme Court Justice, moderated the conversation between Shauna Hegna, President Koniag, Inc., Jo-Ann Chung, District Court Judge, Karina Waller, Executive Director, Ted Stevens Foundation, and Mark Kroloff, Principal, First Alaskan Capital Partner, LLC.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Alumni spotlight: Dominick Eubank, Justice '16, is APD patrol officer

APD Patrol Officer Dominick Eubank
Dominick Eubank, double major in Justice and History, 2016, is a Patrol Officer with the Anchorage Police Department (APD). Dominick entered the Police Academy in June 2016, a month after graduating from UAA. He completed the Academy in December 2016 and also completed  Field Training between December 2016  and April 2017.

The responsibilities of Dominick's job include investigating person and property crimes at the patrol level. The crimes Dominick investigates range from misdemeanors to felonies and include theft, assault, and domestic violence. He also responds to violent  crimes such as homicide and robbery prior to detectives being involved.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Random Reamey joins AJiC as research professional

Random Reamey
Random Reamey, new AJiC research professional.
Please join us in welcoming Random Reamey to the UAA Justice Center. Random is a research professional in the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC). Prior to working at the Justice Center, Random was a research professional and graduate research assistant at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). At ISER he analyzed data from the American Community Survey and other sources to analyze how potential tax options used to balance the Alaska state budget would impact children and families in urban and rural Alaska. This included an analysis of the impact of the Permanent Fund Dividend on Alaskan households. Random began working at ISER as a First Alaskans Institute Intern as part of his undergraduate business degree and continued working there after graduating with a B.B.A. in Economics from UAA in summer 2016. He is currently enrolled in the M.B.A. program at UAA and is interested in business intelligence. Research and analysis for AJiC is similar to the research and analysis in business, according to Random. Decision makers in both fields require good data and analysis in order to make the best decisions possible.

Myrstol presents crime data to House Finance

slide presentation
Dr. Brad Myrstol, interim Justice Center director and director of the Alaska Justice Information Center and Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, provided the Alaska House Finance Committee with Alaska crime statistics during its special session meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Dr. Myrstol provided  "big picture" annual crime rates from 1985-2016 and monthly crime rates from 2014 to 2016. The presentation gave legislators  trends over both long and short periods of time as well as trends for specific crimes.  In addition to Dr. Myrstol, the committee also heard from Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth from the Department of Law and Tony Piper from the Alcohol Safety Action Program. The committee is considering the financial implications of addressing crime rates and changes proposed to criminal justice reform in SB 54. See Dr. Myrstol's presentation here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Alumni spotlight: Wendi Jobe Shackelford 5th generation police officer and crisis intervention expert

Wendi Jobe Shackelford, B.A. Justice, '94, played on the UAA women's basketball team and  received the 1993 award for most improved. She also received the Dresser Cup for having the highest GPA of any student athlete, male or female. Her undergraduate years at UAA, though, were just a warm up for the years of achievement that have followed.

Most improved and highest
GPA among student athletes
After graduating, Shackelford joined the Anchorage Police Department, becoming the fifth generation in her family to enter law enforcement. Her father, maternal grandfather, maternal great grandfather and maternal great, great grandfather have all been police officers. She was one of the first dozen School Resource Officers to go into the Anchorage School District schools, stationed at Chugiak High School from May 2003 to June 2013. She was also among the first patrol officers to be trained in crisis response and supported the development of APD's Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).

Nearing retirement at APD
CIT is a collaborative approach, employing partnerships between law enforcement, the community, mental health providers, individuals with mental illness, their family, and advocates to address the needs of persons with mental illness in a way that emphasizes treatment for nuisance crimes, rather than jail.

From 2001 to 2013, Shackelford served as coordinator of APD's Crisis Intervention Team in addition to her duties as a patrol officer. In 2013, after showing her superiors that CIT coordination was a full-time job, the position of full-time coordinator was created and she held it until her retirement in 2015.

In 2005, Shackelford received the APD officer of the quarter. She also became a YWCA Woman of Distinction that year, the first police officer to be recognized. In 2008, the APD CIT, under Shackelford's coordination, received the Governor's Award recognizing a civic organization that has done the most to improve the potential of people with disabilities.

Shackelford with current APD CIT Coordinator Ruth Adolf
Shackelford is now back at UAA, where she's become a member of the Center for Human Development (CHD) Alaska Training Cooperative. She continues to use her knowledge and experience to train  law enforcement, emergency, and medical first responders in crisis intervention as well as mental health first aid. She is helping to provide the training for a new CIT Coalition in Mat-Su Borough.(See Fall 2017 Alaska Justice Forum) as well as serving as coordinator of Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

And, since July 2016, Shackelford has held a public seat on the executive board of the Alaska Police Standards Council. She is confirmed by the Alaska Legislature to serve through 2021.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Myrstol provides tutorial on importance of "time" when interpreting crime statistics

Brad A Myrstol
Dr. Brad Myrstol, interim Justice Center director, provides a tutorial on interpreting crime statistics, showing the importance of “time” in any analysis of trends.

This is the first in a series of short videos to help everyday people interpret basic crime statistics. In this video, data on rates of larceny theft in Alaska for 1985–2016 are used to demonstrate the importance of time in analyzing whether crime is trending upward, trending downward, or remaining flat.

See the video and transcript.