Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Myrstol cautions linking crime trends with SB91

Dr. Brad Myrstol, interim Justice Center director and director of the Alaska Justice Information Center and the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, is quoted in the Alaska Dispatch, cautioning linking passage of SB91 with Alaska crime trends. The bill, passed last year with bipartisan support, is projected to save $380 million over 10 years by, among other measures, reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders.

While certain types of violent and nonviolent crime have been rising in recent years, that trend in some categores dates back decades, Myrstol told the Dispatch. "[SB91] legislation hasn't really had time to cool yet. It's hot off the presses," he said, adding, "we should always be careful extrapolating recent events."

Myrstol's remarks came as the Dispatch reported that Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced that he would call legislators into special session in October and ask them to increase penalties for low level offenses, reversing parts of SB91.

Myrstol said that it would probably take two to three years after SB91 passage before researchers would be able to assess its effectiveness.

"The challenge is people don't have much patience for that sort of research question," he said. "And I understand why they don't."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Brandeis looks at growing marijuana business in Alaska

Prof. Jason Brandeis
Prof. Jason Brandeis, Justice Center faculty, writes about the regulatory structure being put in place to guide Alaska's marijuana business and the continuing tension between state and federal law, in an article published in the July-September 2017 Alaska Bar Rag. In "Federal rules complicate growing Alaska marijuana business," Brandeis also points out  unique challenges Alaska faces due to a limited road system and the need to ship via air or water, which are subject to federal regulations.

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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sex offender low recidivism in NYT and AJSAC research

The New York Times highlighted low recidivism rates among sex offenders in a recent Op-Docs commentary, including an Alaska rate of 3.4% from a 2001 study. A more comprehensive analysis of Alaska's sex offender recidivism rates can be found in a report co-authored by Dr. Brad Myrstol, interim Justice Center director and director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC) and Alaska Justice Information Center. The Alaska Sex Offender Recidivism and Case Processing Study confirms that Alaska sex offenders are infrequently rearrested or reconvicted for the new commission of new sex offenses.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dr. Troy Payne new Justice program coordinator

Dr. Troy C. Payne
As Undergraduate Program Coordinator for 2017-2018, Dr. Troy C. Payne, Associate Professor of Justice, is leading curriculum development and student academic advising for the Bachelor of Arts in Justice and Minor in Justice programs.  He encourages students to keep in touch and provide feedback via email or Google Hangouts at tpayne9@alaska.edu.  Dr. Payne remains a faculty adviser to the UAA Society of Law & Justice, our student organization, and is teaching a variety of courses including Justice Data Analysis, Terrorism, and Crime Analysis and Mapping.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Justice faculty at Campus Kickoff

Dr. Brad MyrstolDr. Troy Payne, Prof. Deborah Periman, Dr. Ryan Fortson, and Prof. Kristin Knudsen welcomed students and answered questions about Justice programs at the 2017 Campus Kickoff.

To learn more about the programs, degrees and research at UAA's Justice Center see the UAA Justice Center website. Follow us on Facebook and at the Justice Center blog.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Blumenstein recognized with 2017 Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein
Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein
Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein is a recipient of a 2017 Chancellor's Award for Excellence. Join us in Congratulating Dr. Blumenstein on this outstanding achievement.

Dr. Blumenstein's award was in the category of Excellence in Academic Research / Creative Activity, in recognition of the significant and positive impact to UAA and Alaska of her research on intimate partner and sexual violence. To learn more about her research, see her faculty profile page.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Myrstol endorses thoughtful approach when testing sexual assault kits

Interim Justice Center Director
Dr. Brad Myrstol
Dr. Brad Myrstol, Interim Justice Center Director, urged patience regarding the use of $1.1 million that the state received for testing DNA evidence from sexual assaults from around the state. “It requires patience, and on a topic, frankly, that people may not have much patience,” Myrstol said in an interview reported in a recent Juneau Empire story.

Myrstol, a member of the statewide Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) working Group, endorsed the thoughtful and deliberative approach the group is taking both to determine factors that have led to a backlog in testing and how best to protect victims from being re-traumatized when kits are tested.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hospitals apply for more psychiatric beds, Alaska Justice Forum article supports need

Information from "Alaska's Lack of Psychiatric Beds and Consequences," Alaska Justice Forum, Summer 2017, was used in a recent Certificate of Need (CON) hearing to support a request for additional psychiatric beds.
In May 1968, at the time of this photo, API had 225 beds. It has 80 now.
Christine M. McClain papers, Archives and Special Collections,
 Consortium Library,UAA. Jim Balog, photographer

Alaska Regional Hospital and Mat-Su Regional Medical Center both presented cases and supported each other's requests for expanding behavioral health units to the CON board on August 16 in Anchorage. Mat-Su Regional is applying for 36 beds for behavioral health and substance use disorder patients. Alaska Regional Hospital is seeking 24 psychiatric beds, 12 of which would be secure.

"We are desperately in need of more resources," Alaska Regional CEO Julie Taylor told the CON board.  She presented historical information, taken from the Justice Forum article, that API used to have over 200 beds when it began operating in the 1960's. It now has 80 -  with only 50 reserved for adults. The rest are for adolescents, forensic cases and people with dementia and other disabilities who have no other options for placement.

Taylor also presented a chart that appeared in the Forum showing how the de-institutionalization movement of the 1960's and 70's shifted the population of adults with mental illness from medical institutions to jail.

The lack of beds is particularly worrisome as the state takes moves to reduce the number of people with mental illness who are in jail, Taylor said. "We need to be ready with the resources," she said.

Mat-Su Regional will serve both behavioral health and substance use disorder patients. Alaska Regional plans to focus on behavioral health.

Both requests received strong support from service providers, consumers of mental health and substance abuse disorder services, and family members.

A second CON hearing will be held at Mat-Su College on August 31 at 4:30 p.m. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fortson, Knudsen and Payne receive tenure recognition

Dr. Troy Payne
Prof. Ryan Fortson
Prof. Kristin Knudsen
Justice Center faculty Ryan Fortson, Kristin Knudsen and Troy Payne received recognition for receiving tenure from Interim UAA Provost Duane Hrncir at the College of Health All-College meeting on Thursday, August 17. The three Justice faculty, who were all promoted to Associate Professor, were the most faculty from one department in the College of Health to be awarded tenure this year. Prof. Fortson and Prof. Knudsen teach in the Justice Center's Legal Studies program. Prof. Knudsen is Legal Studies Coordinator. Dr. Payne, teaches Justice courses and is the Undergraduate Justice Coordinator. All three were granted tenure in May 2017 by then Provost, now Interim Chancellor, Sam Gingerich.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

AJiC's Results First research in the news

Alaska Dispatch columnist Charles Wohlforth cited research produced by the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) in a recent article about the cost-effectiveness of Alaska Department of Correction's (DOC) sex offender treatment program. Information regarding the state's monetary investment in the DOC program and its return on investment in terms of reducing recidivism comes from work that AJiC is doing as part of  Alaska's partnership with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative.  Results First uses innovative research tools to analyze the benefit to cost ratio of evidence-based programs in Alaska's criminal justice system intended to reduce recidivism.