A Safer Juneau – the Pretrial Enforcement Division

Oct 29, 2018 | Stories of Reentry

Leah Van Kirk, Southeast Pretrial Enforcement Supervisor , and colleagues talk about their program at the Juneau Reentry Coalition community meeting.

The Juneau Reentry Coalition’s mission statement includes, “to promote public safety”.  At JREC’s October 17, 2018 meeting we learned that is exactly what Alaska’s new Pretrial Enforcement Division (PED) is about.  We support that.

Leah Van Kirk, Southeast Pretrial Enforcement Supervisor, said that Pretrial Enforcement has three operational pillars: to maximize court appearances, to maximize community safety, and to maximize appropriate placement.

The overall functions in accomplishing these pillars are pretrial assessments and initial appearance, supervision, and electronic monitoring.  The pretrial assessment informs the court about the risk to the community of the accused in the likelihood of missing future court appearances and/or committing new crimes.  The Judge will consider the assessment as a part of his or her decision on appropriate levels of supervision at the initial appearance of the accused.  The Judge may determine if supervision should include Pretrial Enforcement Officer oversight, electronic monitoring, incarceration, or release on their own recognizance (OR).

During the presentation, Ms. Van Kirk referenced research that indicates that the longer a low-risk person stays in jail awaiting trial, the greater their likelihood becomes for becoming a high-risk for committing new crimes.  For example, a pretrial individual spending 2-3 days in jail is nearly 40% more likely to recidivate, 4-7 days in jail increases the likelihood to 50%, and for 8-14 days a person is 56% more likely to commit a crime.

Reducing recidivism in Juneau is of keen interest to the Juneau Reentry Coalition.  We support the work the Pretrial Enforcement Division is doing in keeping our community safe.