Monday, February 29, 2016

AJSAC releases report on domestic violence and sexual assault/sexual abuse of minor cases

The Alaska Justice and Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC) recently released a final report, Descriptive Analysis of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Incidents Closed by the Alaska State Troopers: 2008-2011.

This report is part of the Alaska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Case Processing Project.The results of the project have potential implications in a number of arenas including resource allocation, training for criminal justice professionals, as well as prevention efforts. The report was authored by Brad Myrstol, Ph.D., AJSAC Director, and Khristy Parker, M.P.A., AJSAC Research Professional.

The project is a collaborative effort with the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers, and the Alaska Department of Law, and is supported by a research grant award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The primary objective of the project is to empirically document the criminal justice case processing and outcomes of sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, and domestic violence cases in the state of Alaska. In coming years, the AJSAC intends to expand the project to include additional Alaska police agencies.

Click here to read the press release from the Alaska State Troopers Public Information Office.

Dr. Payne joins APD Police Chief Tolley on KSKA Hometown Alaska - hear the archived broadcast!

L to r: Dr. Payne and Chief Tolley
at the KSKA studio.
Dr. Troy Payne, Justice faculty, joined the KSKA Hometown Alaska conversation on February 3 with Anchorage Police Department Chief Christopher Tolley and host Kathleen McCoy.   In his capacity as a member of the Anchorage Community Police Relations Task Force, Dr. Payne provided his perspective as Chief Tolley discussed his first months on the job, his initiatives, and his concerns going forward. Chief Tolley took over as Chief in October of 2015.

Click below for the archived broadcast:
"APD Police Chief Chris Tolley Takes Your Questions"
Date: Recorded Wednesday, February 3
Hometown Alaska, KSKA Public Radio, 91.1 FM

Friday, February 26, 2016

2015 Alaska Victimization Survey results show decline in Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence in Alaska since 2010

Alaska Victimization Survey: Research on Violence Against Women in Alaska

The results released February 25, 2016 in Juneau from the 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center for the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault  (CDVSA) show a decline in intimate partner and sexual violence in Alaska since 2010.

CDVSA. Alaska's Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault. Safety - Prevention - AccountabilityIn 2010, 12 in 100 women had experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both in Alaska during the previous year. By 2015, that number dropped to 8 in 100.

By 2015:
  • Intimate partner violence decreased by 32%.
  • Sexual violence decreased by 33%.
  • 6,566 fewer women experienced intimate partner violence in 2015 than in 2010.
  • 3,072 fewer women experienced sexual violence in 2015 than 2010.

Lauree Morton, CDVSA Executive Director, noted, " The survey supports the need for and the benefits of continuing prevention and education efforts statewide. Maintaining these programs is important for Alaska to continue to reduce the violence. Continuing to survey and analyze data helps to make better decisions about how the programs we are using are making a difference."

Details of the survey are available at:

More information:
For more background on this project, visit
For more information about CDVSA, visit

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Justice Center participates in upcoming Color of Justice program and hosts rural high school students

The Justice Center will be participating once again in the upcoming "Color of Justice" event on February 25 and 26 in Anchorage.The "Color of Justice" program  is designed to foster diversity in the legal profession and judiciary by encouraging youth from varied backgrounds and ethnicities to consider careers as lawyers and judges . The program is presented by the National Association of Women Judges, the Alaska Bar Association, the Alaska Court System, Pacific Northwest law schools, and other sponsors.

This year's event has a new component - the Rural Student Initiative- sponsored by all the regional Alaska Native corporations. With funding and coordination from the corporations, about 40 high school students from villages around the state are being flown to Anchorage for the two-day "Color of Justice" program and will be staying with host families. 

As part of the Rural Student Initiative, these high school students have been invited to the UAA campus prior to the start of "Color of Justice."  The Justice Center is coordinating this event which will include presentations at the UAA Multicultural Center and the Alaska Native Student Center about academic and other programs for Native and minority students at UAA, a tour of the campus, and lunch with  UAA students from the Pre-Law Society, ANSEP, and the Native Student Council.

The rural high school students will be joining about 50 other local Anchorage-area high school students at the Boney Courthouse for the "Color of Justice" program to hear presentations on law school, meet with volunteer legal community and judiciary mentors, and participate in a mock trial.

Prof. Ryan Fortson, J.D., and Prof. Deb Periman, J.D., Legal Studies faculty in the Justice Center, serve on the "Color of Justice" organizing committee.  Prof.  Fortson, Prof. Periman, Prof. Jason Brandeis, J.D., and Prof. Kristin Knudsen, J.D., will all be participating in the mock trial and other presentations.

Monday, February 22, 2016

March 9 - save the date! Don't miss "The Fairbanks 4: Lessons Learned from Alaska's First Exoneration"

 The Fairbanks 4:
 Lessons Learned from 
Alaska's First Exoneration

The Alaska Innocence Project and the Office of Public Advocacy spearheaded the effort to exonerate the Fairbanks 4. Join us to hear two of the lawyers involved in the case, as well as a forensic scientist who provided expert testimony.

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: UAA/APU Consortium Library, LIB 307
Admission: Free

Rick Allen, Director, Office of Public Advocacy
Lesley Hammer, Forensic Scientist, Hammer Forensics
Bill Oberly, Executive Director, Alaska Innocence Project

Moderator: Dr. Troy Payne, Justice Center

This event is sponsored by the Justice Center, the Pre-Law Society, the Justice Club, and the Alaska Innocence Project.

In 2009 the United States Congress established March as National Criminal Justice Month. The purpose of National Criminal Justice Month is to promote societal awareness regarding the causes and consequences of crime, as well as strategies for preventing and responding to crime.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Prof. Knudsen speaks to high school students as part of upcoming Supreme Court Live! program in Anchorage

Prof. Knudsen, J.D., discusses the case background with
Bartlett High School students.
Prof. Kristin Knudsen, J.D., recently presented to two government classes at Bartlett High School and a government class at Dimond High School to assist students in understanding the cases to be argued on February 24, 2016 at West High School in Anchorage for Supreme Court Live!  The Alaska Supreme Court will hear the actual oral arguments of two cases at West High in front of an audience of the public and high school students from around the city.

In advance of the the oral arguments, volunteer attorneys are invited into high school classrooms to discuss the background of the cases, as well as the case materials which are available in advance on the court system website.

At the conclusion of the arguments, students will have the opportunity to ask questions of the participants. The oral arguments are videotaped and livestreamed by Gavel Alaska, a service of KTOO-TV Juneau Public Televsion.

Supreme Court Live! was initiated in 2010, and is part of the school and community outreach efforts of the Alaska Court System. Supreme Court Live! has been held in Barrow, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka, as well as Anchorage.

Dr. Blumenstein presents on domestic violence and sexual assault research at Zonta meeting

Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, Justice faculty, presented recently to the Zonta Club of Anchorage, a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children through education, funds and service projects.

Dr. Blumenstein discussed the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska; research by the Justice Center on violence against women, including the Alaska Victimization Survey; and domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs and methods of evaluating their effectiveness.

Justice Center welcomes students at 2016 Spring Preview Day

Dr. Rivera (l) talks to students about Justice Center programs.
Dr. Marny Rivera, Justice Undergraduate Program Coordinator, and Prof. Deb Periman, J.D., Legal Studies Program Coordinator, met with high school students and their parents at the Spring 2016 Preview Day on February 5 at the UAA Student Union.

Preview Days are designed specifically for high school juniors and seniors and their guests and help students get ready to attend UAA. The event offers students and their guests the opportunity to experience firsthand all that UAA has to offer.

Students attend mock classes, workshops on admissions and financial aid, and speak with current students about campus life, and with UAA faculty about academic programs. Guests attending with the students also speak with UAA administrators and attend workshops on admissions and financial aid.

"Spirit" (center) wishes he could be a Justice or Legal Studies major! L to r: Dr. Rivera,
and Prof. Periman, J.D.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Two law review articles by Prof. Brandeis cited in Alaska Epidemiology bulletin on marijuana use survey

Two law review articles by Prof. Jason Brandeis, J.D., Legal Studies faculty in the Justice Center, were cited in the February 1, 2016 State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin, Survey on Marijuana Use, Awareness, and Beliefs - Alaska, May 2015.

Read Prof. Brandeis' articles here:

"Ravin Revisited: Alaska's Historic Common Law Marijuana Rule at the Dawn of Legalization," Alaska Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, December 2015

"Continuing vitality of Ravin v. State: Alaskans still have a constitutional right to ossess marijuana in the privacy of their homes,"  Alaska Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, December 2012.

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.  This law practice included providing legal services to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.

Justice Center volunteers at point-in-time count and Project Homeless Connect Anchorage 2016

Dr. Sharon Chamard, Justice faculty, and Barbara Armstrong, editor, Alaska Justice Forum, joined scores of other volunteers to assist with the annual HUD point-in-time count of homeless persons and Project Homeless Connect on January 27, 2016 in Anchorage.

Dr. Chamard assisted with the annual point-in-time count of persons at homeless encampments. Barbara Armstrong worked with volunteers doing data entry for the individuals served at Project Homeless Connect at the Egan Convention Center.

 The PIT (point-in-time) annual counts for HUD provide counts of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night. This data is used in policymaking and determining assistance for homeless persons on the local, state, and federal levels.

Project Homeless Connect brings together service providers and government agencies under one roof to provide homeless persons with the services they need. Services provided included haircuts, health exams, legal services, housing and employment information, and referrals to mental health and substance abuse counseling. The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) is the organizer of the event. A total of 797 clients were served at the Anchorage Project Homeless Connect event this year.

Data entry volunteers for
Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect events were also held in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Kenai. Final statewide data on numbers served and the point-in-time count of homeless persons are being compiled and will be released at a later date.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dr. Chamard presents at conference in India on crime prevention

Shore Temple, Mahabilapuram,
outside of Chennai, India.
Dr. Sharon Chamard, Justice Center faculty, recently gave a presentation at the Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis (ECCA) symposium in Mahabilapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.  Her presentation was titled “’Whack-a-Mole’ and Displacement of Illegitimate Users of Public Space.”

Her presentation discussed how interventions to move "illegitimate" users from public space do not solve the core problems (e.g., homelessness and substance abuse), because the individuals simply move to other less public locations.

While in India, she also visited with officials with the Indian Police Service in Jaipur, Rajasthan at a neighborhood-level station house and at the Police Headquarters.

ECCA is an annual, invitation-only symposium attended by an international group of researchers and practitioners engaged in situational crime prevention, intelligence-led policing, and problem-oriented policing.

L - r: Dr. Rashi Shukla, University of Central Oklahoma; Dr. Sharon Chamard;
Inspector Neeraj Bhardwaj, Station House Officer, Malviya Nagar Station, Jaipur;
Dr. Lin Liu, University of Cincinnati and Sun Yat-Sen University.

L-r: Dr. Bhupendra Singh, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Sardar Patel University of Police,
Security, and Criminal Justice, Jodhpur; Dr. Rashi Shukla, University of Central Oklahoma;
Dr. Lin Liu, University of Cincinnati and Sun Yat-Sen University; Dr. Sharon Chamard.

Dr. Rosay and Lauree Morton, CDVSA Executive Director, present at Alaska Health Summit

Dr. Andre Rosay, Justice Center Director, and Lauree Morton, Executive Director of the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), presented at the 33rd Annual Alaska Health Summit convened by the Alaska Public Health Association.

Dr. Rosay and Ms. Morton presented information about the Alaska Victimization Survey, the Alaska Dashboard on key issues impacting domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska, and the leading health indicators included in Healthy Alaskans 2020 to reduce the number of Alaskans experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Help by taking the UA Campus Climate Survey and earn a $10 Amazon gift card!

Would you like to receive a free $10 Amazon gift card? 
  • Just complete the University of Alaska Campus Climate Survey!
  • This survey will help Justice Center researchers learn more about students'  attitudes and how students view the UA campuses systemwide regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment issues and campus safety.
  • Look for an invitation with the link to the survey coming to your UA email address starting February 15, 2016.
As a token of our thanks, we will be offering a free $10 Amazon gift card to students completing the survey. The gift card will be sent directly to your email!

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, UAA Justice Center, at

Monday, February 8, 2016

Justice alumni spotlight: Munkh-Erdene Tsend-Ochir, BA Justice '13/Paralegal Certificate '13

Judge Munkh Tsend-Ochir (l) receiving his judicial appointment from
the President of Mongolia, Mr. Elbegdorj.Ts.
Munkh-Erdene Tsend-Ochir, BA Justice '13/Paralegal Certificate '13, was appointed judge for the First Instance Criminal Court of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by the president of Mongolia in October 2015.  This court deals with less serious crimes, in somewhat the same way that our district courts hear cases about less serious offenses.

Munkh came to UAA from Mongolia where he had earned a Bachelor's of Law degree in 2003 and worked as a defense lawyer. After receiving his UAA Justice degree, Munkh returned to Mongolia and served as the Officer of Foreign Relations and Cooperation for the Ministry of Justice where he was in charge of legal assistance and extradition and transfer of convicts.

He explained the process for applying for a judgeship in Mongolia which includes the following requirements:
  • Minimum 3 years of law practice
  • Minimum Bachelor's of Law degree
  • Passing a written exam on Mongolian law
  • Being interviewed by judicial council members
Judge Munkh-Erdene Tsend-Ochir, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
After passing all the above requirements, names are forwarded to the president of Mongolia for consideration.  These individuals must then pass a background check and be interviewed by the legal council of the president.

Munkh was born in Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city in Mongolia. He practiced criminal defense law, and later was a public defender at the Legal Aid Center for Indigent People. Ulaanbaatar is growing quickly as Mongolians move from rural areas to the city to find work, and most of Munkh's indigent clients were from this population.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dr. Myrstol interviewed for Alaska Dispatch article on Anchorage Police Department's efforts to diversify its ranks

Dr. Brad Myrstol, Justice faculty, was interviewed by Jerzy Shedlock for an article in the Alaska Dispatch News about the need for diversity in law enforcement and the Anchorage Police Department's efforts to attract minority applicants.

Dr. Myrstol noted that it is "difficult for police to change those [negative] perceptions [of police work]. An important aspect of changing those perceptions is improving relationships with minority communities and changing the demographics of police departments.”

Read the article here:
"Anchorage Police Department, 82 percent white, tries to diversify its force" by Jerzy Shedlock. Alaska Dispatch News, 31 Jan 2016.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dr. Blumenstein is panelist for program for UAA 2016 Healthy Sexuality Week

Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, Justice faculty, was one of the panelists following the screening of "The Hunting Ground" on January 20 and 21 on campus.  The documentary examined sexual assaults on U.S. campuses.

The program was part of the UAA 2016 Healthy Sexuality Week and included on both evenings opening and closing comments by Chancellor Tom Case, and representatives from the Office of Dean of Students, the UAA Police Department, the UAA School of Nursing, and STAR (Standing Together Against Rape).

Panelists at Gorsuch Commons on Jan. 20. Seated (l to r): Julie Dale, STAR; Officer Michael Beckner,UPD; Bridget Dooley,
UAA Title IX Coordinator; Michael Votava, UAA Director of Student Conduct and Ethical Development;
Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, UAA Justice Center; Det. Andrew Cottle, Anchorage Police Department.
Standing: American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter Lou Ann Pironti.
At podium: Dr. Angela Trujillo, School of Nursing, UAA College of Health.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Justice alumni spotlight: Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom, BA Justice ’12

Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom
Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom, BA Justice ’12, recently celebrated her first anniversary with the Anchorage Police Department (APD).  Hannah has always been interested in law enforcement and in the military.  When looking at a future career, she was not sure which law enforcement entity she wanted to join. But a friend helped her get permission to do a ride-along with APD and she discovered things were very different than what she had expected – and she liked the challenges and variety she saw. Her courses in the Justice Center often used statistics from APD and she felt like she got to know a lot about how that law enforcement agency works.  So when the time seemed right, Hannah applied to APD and was hired.

Hannah came to Alaska from Connecticut about seven years ago – she wanted to go “out West” where there were more job opportunities. At UAA, she first majored in Business then switched to Justice.  That made more sense because she was interested in working in federal law enforcement.  The toll that drugs take on individuals and the community is a big focus for Hannah, and she wanted to be part of the solution to that problem.

APD Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom by her patrol car.
Before joining APD, Hannah worked for a private security firm that assisted state agencies in transporting prisoners, as well as transports under Title 47.  Dr. Marny Rivera’s course in biobehavioral criminology really helped prepare her for dealing successfully with persons suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues – and she recommends that course for anyone going into law enforcement.  Hannah credits her coursework at the Justice Center for giving her an overview of crime and the justice system, and a good context for what police work entails.  She especially enjoyed her senior year capstone class with Dr. Ron Everett. The assigned readings took a lot of time but they covered a multitude of topics including sentencing, DNA testing and exoneration of innocent persons convicted for crimes, and financial crime and impacts. “The books were good reads. I gained more from that class than from anything. It was hard, but worth it.”

Her next step after being hired by APD was the APD Police Academy here in Anchorage– a rigorous program that includes report writing, criminal law classes, overview of different police units, pistol/rifle/shotgun practice, defensive tactics, and scenarios requiring application of the skills learned.  There were initially three women in Hannah’s class, but ultimately Hannah was one of only two women who made it through the program.  After graduation, Hannah began additional training with APD – a process that is ongoing for all police officers.

For the first few months, Hannah did field training observation with several training officers.  Now, after one year on the job, she is in a patrol car on her own.  She remarks that even though many women may be of smaller stature than men, they can be just as effective in police work – and that women are taught how to have a “command presence,” among other strategies.  She loves her job and especially appreciates that APD has so many opportunities for furthering her career in law enforcement.

One thing that is apparent when talking to Hannah is the amount of gear she is wearing.  All officers wear about 40 pounds of gear including, but not limited to, a gun, ammunition, a radio, and handcuffs. There are internal and external vests. The vests themselves are not light-weight and are made of bullet-proof materials.  Female officers have belts designed for their body type, but Hannah notes that no matter what, every officer – male and female - feels the heavy weight of their gear. “Body work,” she grins, “is a requirement for keeping muscles pain-free and in shape – whether it’s massage, chiropractic, or yoga. When I first started, I was told I would need body work, but I thought, not me – I’m young and in good shape. Well, I was wrong.”

When she is not keeping the streets of Anchorage safe, Hannah enjoys mixed martial arts and competes on the state and national level in Brazilian jujitsu.  She was state champion in her division for two years. And she is also a Pilates instructor.  Her job requires her to be in good condition, but she also notes, “I hate the winter.  That’s why I do indoor sport.”  Hannah likes keeping a balance of work and other activities, and stresses the benefit of both the camaraderie of fellow officers, as well as that of friends who are outside the field of police work. And what does the future hold?  Ultimately, Hannah would like to work in SWAT or in vice.  In the meantime Officer Ostrom is enjoying the opportunity to respond to a variety of situations in her daily job with APD.

Dr. Blumenstein interviewed by KTUU Channel 2 News about crime rates in Anchorage

Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, Justice faculty, was interviewed by KTUU Channel 2 News, about the recent FBI Uniform Crime Rates (UCR) report and a report from the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) about Anchorage dropping in "quality of life" rankings among other U.S. cities due to crime.

Dr. Blumenstein commented that UCR data alone give an incomplete picture. She notes that it is very difficult to compare cities using the UCR data and that the FBI website cautions against using this data alone to make comparisons of the levels of crime in a given area.

See the full story here:
"REPORT: Anchorage quality of life declines as crime rates rise" by Dan Carpenter. KTUU Channel 2 News, 27 Jan 2016.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

AJSAC Fact Sheet highlighted on Justice Research and Statistics Association website

The Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC) and the 16-01 Fact Sheet — "Alaska Trauma Registry: Trauma Admissions Involving Alcohol or Illegal Drugs, 2014" are in the member spotlight of the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA).
The fact sheet presents data from the Alaska Trauma Registry (ATR) on numbers of trauma admissions, patient demographics, and the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs in trauma admissions in 2014. Khristy Parker, Research Professional, is the author of the fact sheet.

JRSA also tweeted about the recent AJSAC Fact Sheet on Alaska Trauma Registry admissions.

The Justice Research and Statistics Association is a national nonprofit organization of state Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) directors, and other researchers and practitioners throughout government, academia, and the justice community who are dedicated to the use of research and analysis to make informed policy and program decisions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tune in when Dr. Payne joins APD Police Chief Tolley on KSKA Hometown Alaska, Wednesday, Feb 3 at 2:00 pm

Tune in on Wednesday, February 3, when Anchorage Police Department Chief Christopher Tolley joins host Kathleen McCoy on Hometown Alaska to discuss his first months on the job, his initiatives, and his concerns going forward. Chief Tolley took over as Chief in October of 2015.

Dr. Troy Payne, Justice faculty, will also join the conversation as a member of the Anchorage Community Police Relations Task Force.

"APD Police Chief Chris Tolley Takes Your Questions,"
Date: Wednesday, Feburary 3
Time: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Hometown Alaska, KSKA Public Radio, 91.1 FM

AJSAC Fact Sheet released: Juvenile Justice Referrals and Charges in Alaska, FY 2006–2015

Juvenile Justice Referrals and Charges in Alaska, FY 2006–2015The most recent issue of the AJSAC Fact Sheet presents summary information on referrals made by Alaska law enforcement agencies to the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for for state fiscal years 2006–2015. The report, "Juvenile Justice Referrals and Charges in Alaska, FY 2006–2015," presents data on the number of referrals and charges made, and unique individuals referred to DJJ.  Data is drawn from the DJJ Data Trends website.

The fact sheet is by Khristy Parker of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC).