Monday, July 30, 2018

Environmental contaminants are ‘generational game changer’

Annie Alowa at a contaminated site on St. Lawrence Island. Alowa led the effort to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clean up Northeast Cape. She died from liver cancer in 1999.  In 2016 she was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy Alaska Community Action on Toxics.
Annie Alowa at a contaminated site on St. Lawrence Island.
Photo courtesy Alaska Community Action on Toxics.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $125 million to clean up contaminants left behind when the U.S. Air Force base at Northeast Cape on St. Lawrence Island closed in 1972. An article in the Summer 2018 Alaska Justice Forum discusses studies following the cleanup. While state and federal health studies recommend continued reliance upon traditional foods, St. Lawrence Island community members are conducting their own studies. They fear contaminants in traditional foods may be contributing to elevated levels of PCBs in their blood, higher cancer rates, and reproductive system challenges.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Challenges of contaminated site cleanup in rural Alaska

Contaminated sites in Alaska, FY 2017. This map marks the locations of contaminated sites throughout Alaska that have been identified by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conversation.  Source: Contaminated Sites Database, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Contaminated sites in Alaska, FY 2017.
Source: Contaminated Sites Database,
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Alaska is ranked third in the U.S. for Formerly Used Defense Sites properties, most of which are in remote locations. Many of the sites were contaminated during World War II, or during the Cold War, when the long-term effects of chemicals were not understood. An article in the Summer 2018 Alaska Justice Forum looks at long term efforts to clean up these, and other contaminated sites in the state, and the disproportionate impact on rural Alaska Native communities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Alumni spotlight: Daniel Reinhard, Justice B.A. 2015, Criminology M.A. 2017, working with AJiC this summer

Daniel Reinhard, Justice B.A. 2015, Criminology M.A. 2017, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C., is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. This summer, Reinhard is working as a research professional in the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) with Associate AJiC Director and Justice faculty Dr. Troy Payne.

Reinhard's work for AJiC includes compiling Alaska criminal justice data for AJiC Fact Sheets, a series of publications that address crime and criminal justice topics. Reinhard is also assisting with the Law Enforcement and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey in Alaska, and the LEMAS Tribal Community Public Safety Supplement survey. Both are related to better understanding law enforcement staffing and resource needs throughout the state.

As an undergraduate, Reinhard worked on a case study of Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage. He co-authored an article with Dr. Payne,  "The Complexity of Problem-Solving in Urban Parks: A Case Study,"  published in the journal, International Criminal Justice Review, in 2016.

Dr.  Sharon Chamard, Justice faculty, calls Reinhard one of her "best crime prevention students." Last summer, she traveled to Vancouver, B.C.  to be an outside reader and external examiner for Reinhard's master's thesis defense.

Reinhard's area of interest is environmental criminology and international crime prevention. In the fall, he is taking Ph.D. courses at Texas State related to crime mapping, behavioral sciences, and sex offenders, as well as teaching an undergraduate class on crime theory and victimization. When  not taking courses and teaching, Reinhard is working on panhandling and homeless research in Austin, Texas.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Environmental justice in Summer 2018 Alaska Justice Forum

The 2018 summer edition of the Alaska Justice Forum looks at environmental and rural justice topics including ongoing challenges of cleaning up contaminated sites in Alaska.

Contaminated sites in Alaska, FY 2017, Contaminated Sites Database, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Alaska is ranked third in the U.S. for Formerly Used Defense Sites properties.  Most of these properties are in remote locations, placing a disproportionate impact on Alaska Native communities that depend upon environmental resources for their livelihood. This environmental justice issue is explored in terms of the costs of cleanup and long-term impacts upon people and the environment.

This year, Congress expanded eligibility and increased limits on Brownfields Program funds.  The Brownfields Program provides funds for assessment and cleanup of contaminants on property targeted for redevelopment.  Anchorage, Mat-Su and Kodiak are among current recipients of Brownfields grants in Alaska.

The Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) recently released its Fact Sheet, Parole and Probation in Alaska, 2002-2016. The Fact Sheet is included in the Alaska Justice Forum’s online edition.
2018 summer Alaska Justice Forum articles include:
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gov. Walker signs bill supporting sexual assault kit testing and standardizing investigations

Gov. Bill Walker signed House Bill 31 last week requiring a yearly accounting of untested sexual assault kits in the state, as well as providing systems for standardizing sexual assault investigations. Alaska police academies are now required to teach sexual assault investigative techniques and law.

Brad Myrstol, Justice Center director, is a member of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Working Group, which is working with the Alaska Department of Public Safety to develop a protocol for dealing with untested kits and creating a sustainable  and victim-centered response to sexual assault cases moving forward. Myrstol, along with Ingrid Johnson, new Justice faculty with an expertise in domestic violence and sexual assault, attended the signing of the bill on Friday, June 29.

Nearly a third (33.1%) of adult women in Alaska have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the  2015 Alaska Victimization Survey. The survey is conducted by the  Justice Center for the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

For more on Alaska's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative see the Spring 2018 Alaska Justice Forum.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Payne quoted in motor vehicle theft story, AJiC provides additional information

Troy Payne, Justice faculty and Alaska Justice Information Center Associate Director, was quoted in an Anchorage Daily News story on the impact of having a car stolen. "The tendency is to say, 'Oh[,] it[']s just property, it's replaceable.' If you're insured it's not that big of a deal....It's actually really traumatic to have that sort of violation," according to Payne. The story is part of a series on factors involving growing car thefts in Anchorage, including, "$45 million in property was stolen in Anchorage last year," and "How counterfeit cash, SB 91 and stolen guns fit into the Anchorage car theft epidemic: A Q&A with detectives."

For additional resources see Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) publications including:
Value of Stolen Property Reported in Alaska, 1985–2016,by Random Reamey,
Motor Vehicle Theft Arrests Reported in Alaska, 1985–2015, by Random Reamey

BJS report shows uptick in reporting of prison sexual victimization

The Bureau of Justice Statistics  released a summary of efforts during 2017 and 2018 to collect data and report on the incidence and effects of sexual victimization in correctional facilities as required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). The report shows nearly triple the number of reported allegations of sexual victimization, 24,661 in 2015, as compared to 8,768 in 2011. Substantiated allegations rose form 902 in 2011 to 1,473 in 205 (up 63%).

Among the 24,661 allegations of sexual victimization in 2015, a total of 1,473 were substantiated, 10,142 were unfounded, 10,313 were unsubstantiated, and 2,733 were still under investigation. The sharp rise in unfounded or unsubstantiated allegations of sexual victimization coincided with the release of the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape in 2012. It reflects improvements in data collection and reporting by correctional authorities, and increased reporting of allegations by inmates.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services  2015 PREA Annual report for the Division of Juvenile Justice, (DJJ), also reflects an increase in the report of allegations since PREA standards were released in 2012. In 2011, DJJ reports seven allegations (one substantiated) and in 2015, 28 allegations (eight substantiated) - four times as many. 

The Alaska Department of Corrections 2016 and 2017 PREA annual reports earliest numbers are from 2014, making it difficult to track the impact of the 2012 national standards on reporting of allegations. In 2014, there were 42 allegations (13 substantiated) and in 2017 there were 36 allegations (five substantiated).