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We Build Alaska

New Bail Rules Under SB91 to Start January 1 – Happy New Year

Just when you thought the unpopular crime reform bill Senate Bill 91 (SB91) could not get any more unpopular, a new bail provision is set to go into effect on January 1, 2018. The new bail provision is based on an algorithm that the legislature requested the Department of Corrections develop. The algorithm is supposed to determine if someone poses a danger to society or not.

This grid is part of a December 2015 Alaska Criminal Justice Commission report on justice reinvestment.

The new bail provision is set out under Alaska Statue 12.30.010. Bail Before or After Conviction; Restrictions on Release Without Bail. Under this new statute a person who has been charged with a misdemeanor or class B or C felony will not necessarily be required to post bail. Bail does not have anything to do with sentencing, so a person who has committed a class B or C felony that is awaiting trial or sentencing could be released without bail before they are tried or sentenced.

Low risk offenders will be mandatorily released without bail for almost all class C felonies. Examples include vehicle theft, eluding police, theft of a gun, or commercial burglary.

The interesting thing is that Senate Bill 54, the bill that made changes to the unpopular crime reform bill SB91, did not do anything about bail, it only dealt with sentencing. So certain people who have been charged with serious crimes may be subject to mandatory release under this new bail provision created under SB91.

This new provision was set to go into effect on January 1, 2018 so the Department of Corrections would have time to establish the new Pretrial Services Division. The Department of Corrections website has only limited information about this new division. Click here to see. In November, the Alaska Landmine published an article about the checkered past of the new director the Pretrial Services Division, Geri Fox.

Bail in the United States is a major problem. People who are charged with minor crimes or who have for example, unpaid parking tickets, or have been charged with many nonviolent crimes should not be subjected to excessive bail. In fact, the eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” But the bail problems that have affected other cities and states around the country are not big problems here in Alaska. Judges should be given the leeway to decide what bail is appropriate based on the crime and the person’s criminal history, not an algorithm developed by bureaucrats.

If sentencing under SB91 upset people, this new bail provision will take their anger to a whole new level. Here’s to a Happy New Year…

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6 years ago

This law will give the term catch and release a new meaning. It’s time for us to stand up and tell Sen. John Coghill to apologize to the Alaskan victims of crime. Time for solutions and action from the legislators. We need to demand that our citizens will be protected by the Government. Its there duty to protect us and they arent. Judges and prosecutors have partial responsibility in this when they sentenced criminals for manslaughter to 12 months probation. How many more victims will we see in 2018 because of this provision? Thank you for writing this article. Please… Read more »

Edie Grunwald
6 years ago

Unbelievable. Hang on to your hats! And yes, it is okay to wonder where is the victims rights?!? And where is the public safety?!?

John Francis
6 years ago

With exception of those who voted for the full repeal amendment to SB54 I don’t believe anyone brought bail changed up during the hearings.

These pro-crime Legislators must believe they can hide behind the few changes passed in 54. The voters are furious and we’ll see to it that they are voted out. It may be the largest group of freshman legislators since year 1 of statehood.

Check Fraud Victim $980
6 years ago

Good Lord! I was just check frauded by a felon who was out on bail for a Burglary charge for approximately 24 hours…. he was bailed out by a another criminal who currently had an OPEN criminal case! Then he was picked the following week for robbery, while he had a warrant for his arrest because he didn’t go to court for burglary charge that he was out on bail for. You can believe that I am not only going to show my face to the legislature, but they will also be receiving a letter… that’s really the only way… Read more »

6 years ago

Suspect ankle monitor and locate will solve more crimes if the bill is designed properly, crime committed, location, time committed, and
Locate of all released and location. May serve good to.