Monday, February 19, 2018

ABA approves Legal Studies Program through Aug. 2023

The Justice Center Legal Studies Program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) through August 2023. The Justice Center Legal Studies Program includes:

Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies
Minor, Legal Studies
Associate of Applied Science, Paralegal Studies
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Paralegal Studies
Certificate, Legal Nurse Consultant Paralegal

According to the ABA, "approved programs have demonstrated their high quality education to the lawyers and paralegals in their legal communities."

The Legal Studies Program at UAA and the Paralegal Studies Program at UAF are the only ABA-approved programs in Alaska.

2018 marks the 26th anniversary of ABA approval of UAA's program. Approval is awarded after a rigorous application and assessment process, followed by a thorough site visit by members of the Standing Committee on Paralegals.

The mission of the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals is to improve the American system of justice by establishing ABA standards for the education of paralegals and by promoting attorneys' professional, effective and ethical utilization of paralegals.

UAA Legal Studies Program graduates can be found working in law firms, state and federal agencies, corporate legal departments, the courts, Native corporations, and the private business sector, contributing to the justice system on the local, state, and federal levels.

Prof. Kristin Knudsen, J.D., M.J.S., is the Legal Studies Program Coordinator.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Performance objectives better than per capita rates when determining size of police force

Police departments serving cities throughout the country with populations exceeding 25,000, employed an average of 16.8 officers for every 10,000 residents in 2016. The Anchorage Police Department employed 11.9 officers per 10,000 residents, according to the 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program. However, police association groups and research published by the U.S. Department of Justice support using performance objectives that include workload measures, among other criteria, as a better guide to staffing decisions than officers per capita. In fact, there are no national standards for how many officers a department should have per capita, according to Police Employment, Officers Per Capita Rates for U.S. Cities, Governing, The States and Localities. The article in Governing provides an overview of police staffing throughout the country and links to recommendations for determining staffing levels.

Read about police staffing in the Fall 2017 Alaska Justice Forum:
"How do you determine the right size of a police department? Don't look to crime rates," by Troy C. Payne

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Alaska data in national survey of criminal information systems

The most recent survey of criminal history information systems throughout the country shows that there is one day or less elapsed time between issuance of a protective order in the Alaska Court System and entry into the state file. This is similar to 20 other states, with the rest taking longer. Entry onto the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) File takes longer, 2–7 days, which puts Alaska slower than 19 other states and among the 13 states and Guam that take this amount of time.

SEARCH: The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics (click through to SEARCH website)Tracking of Alaska's criminal information systems and those throughout the country — including fingerprints, criminal warrants and disposition of cases — is covered in the newly released "Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2016." This is the fourteenth survey since 1989 conducted by SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, with funding from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (click through to website)Authors of the newly released report caution comparing statistics from year to year due to the impact of fiscal constraints and other factors on state information systems. While Alaska has timely posting, within a day or less, of warrants on the state and NCIC Wanted Person file, it does not retain tracking information on criminal history records to show case status through the criminal justice process and does not post indictment information to the criminal history record. Final case disposition is posted.  Elapsed time between the occurrence of a felony court case disposition and its receipt by the repository is 2-7 days.

Alaska is one of 26 states that do not provide web-based noncriminal justice background checks to the public.

Finally, the report indicates that Alaska has plans to replace it's computerized criminal history systems between 2019 and 2021. The cost is yet to be determined.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Alaska Court System Annual Report FY 2017

Alaska Court System Annual Report FY 2017
The Alaska Court System Annual Report FY 2017, released last week, includes an overview of the court system, review of court initiatives over the fiscal year, photo directory of Alaska Court System judges and magistrate judges, maps of court locations, statistical tables of court system activity, and photos of Alaska courthouses and scenic areas around the state.

This is the sixth year that Melissa S. Green, Justice Center publication specialist, has worked with Antonia Moras, project coordinator for the court system and former editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, to produce the report. Ms. Green collaborated on design, did layout and compositing of text, statistical tables, maps, and photographs for both the annual report and a more abbreviated Profile of the Alaska Court System 2018.

Ms. Green also collaborated with Ms. Moras on a major redesign of the report in FY 2012.

Annual reports for FY 2007–FY 2017 are available on the Alaska Court System website.

Pretrial risk assessment tool provides Alaska courts new information on defendants

(Photo) Bail hearing
Bail hearing at Anchorage Correctional Complex Court
with Judge Douglas H. Kossler presiding.
Beginning January 1, Alaska courts began receiving information from a pretrial risk assessment tool to assist in bail decisions. The goal is to improve public safety by reducing the number of defendants who fail to appear for trial or commit a new crime while out on bail. Read about it in the Winter 2018 Alaska Justice Forum.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Myrstol named Justice Center Director

[Photo] Brad A. Myrstol
Dr. Brad A. Myrstol,
Director of the UAA Justice Center
UAA College of Health Dean Jeff Jessee is pleased to announce that after a national search, Dr. Brad Myrstol, has been appointed director of the Justice Center. Dr. Myrstol, who has been interim director since August 2017, is also director of the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) and has been with the Justice Center as a faculty member since 2009. Previously he worked at the Justice Center as a research professional from 2002 to 2006.

"We are all extremely fortunate to have such a talented leader for the Justice Center," Dean Jessee said. "He is deeply committed to the Justice Center's mission of leading Alaska toward a safer, healthier and more just society."

Dr. Myrstol received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Indiana University in 2006. He has served as the principal or co-principal investigator on a variety of Alaska justice topics including the offending trajectories of juveniles, the criminal case processing of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor cases, the role and impact of Alaska’s Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program on the state’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, sex offender recidivism trajectories, sexual violence victimization among university students, the structure and organization of policing in Alaska, as well as factors impacting charging, time-to-disposition, and sentencing outcomes in felony cases.

While at UAA, Dr. Myrstol has received over $1 million in research funding from sources including the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, as well as Alaska state and local agencies.

Dr. Myrstol is currently the principal investigator on Alaska's Results First Initiative, a partnership with the Pew-MacArthur Trust that provides analysis of evidence-based programs giving policymakers  a tool to better understand the relationship between the state’s monetary investment in programs and the return on that investment in terms of the benefits of reduced recidivism.

"I look forward to supporting Dr. Myrstol and the work of the Justice Center," Dean Jessee said.

Friday, February 2, 2018

New APCAAA scholarship — $1000 min.— deadline Feb. 15

APCAAA Scholarship
New Anchorage Police Citizen Academy Alumni Association Scholarship for students enrolled at UAA in Bachelor of Arts in Justice or Legal Studies or Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. $1,000 per academic year (minimum) is now available. Students must be residents of Alaska and have a 2.0 GPA. The deadline for applying is February 15, 2018. Go to

(logo) Anchorage Police Citizen Academy Alumni Association (APCAAA)Anchorage Police Citizen Academy Alumni Association (APCAAA) is a non-profit voluntary organization of interested Academy graduates who join to promote and improve community relations, provide continuing education, increase community involvement, and assist and support the Anchorage Police Department.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fortson provides legislative immunity background regarding Fansler allegations

Prof. Ryan Fortson
Prof. Ryan Fortson, Justice faculty, explained to KTVA reporter Liz Raines that Alaska legislators have immunity from prosecution for actions related to their legislative duties. For instance, he said, they have immunity from defamation for statements they may make during the legislative session.  But this immunity probably would not extend to actions such as those alleged against Rep. Zach Fansler,  Fortson added. Fansler has been accused of assaulting a woman in Juneau.

No Signs of Rep. Zach Fansler in the Capital, Jan. 30, 2018, KTVA CBS 11 news

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Justice Center research shows need for continued work in Alaska during National Stalking Awareness Month

Andre Rosay, former Justice
Center Director, Associate Dean,
College of Health, AVS principal
Statistics from the Justice Center's Alaska Victimization Survey (AVS) were used throughout January, which is also National Stalking Awareness Month, to educate Alaskans about the need to make Alaska a safer place for women.  News outlets cited Justice Center research showing high rates of domestic violence - including that more than one in nine Alaskan women have experienced physical or psychological abuse in the last year -- and that one in four Anchorage women reported that they'd been stalked at some point in their lives. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner also highlighted a 2007 Justice Center report in partnership with Alaska State Troopers that documented high rates of sexual assault in the state.

Justice Center research in the news:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Measuring the benefit to cost of the state's investment in adult criminal justice programs

Alaska Results First Initiative
A report from the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) at the Justice Center shows that most of Alaska's evidence-based adult criminal justice programs are showing positive return on state investment of money. AJiC's Alaska Results First analysis shows the monetary return on the state’s investment in evidence-based criminal justice programs, provides tools for assessing how changing the cost structure and delivery method can impact the return on current programs, and helps estimate the benefit to cost ratio for prospective programs. Read more about this new tool for analyzing the benefit to cost of programs in the Winter 2018 Alaska Justice Forum.