A California woman who was involved in a mid-day gunfight outside an Anchorage mall on Jan. 27, and who ran from officers to evade capture, was released on her own recognizance, due to lenient standards set by Senate Bill 91.
Now she’s skipped her court date, which was this afternoon.
Jessica Malcolm is a 26-year-old, tatted-up felon who allegedly came to Anchorage to visit family. As a felon, she’s not allowed to own a gun. She had a Glock on her and a magazine with with 30 rounds of ammunition when police finally arrested her in late January.
Police said a group of people got into an altercation in the parking lot of the Shockwave Trampoline Parks at the Northway Mall.
“At some point during the altercation, the suspects used gunfire to address the issue they were having with each other. Several shots were fired damaging vehicles parked in the area. No one was injured. As officers with the Patrol Division responded to the scene, the suspects fled. Three of the suspects fled in an SUV and crashed near Rodeo Place. They got out and took off running towards Bragaw Street. Officers caught the suspects in a parking lot near the post office. They were taken into custody, arrested and transported to jail,” according to police.
Malcolm was charged with a Class C felony — felon in possession of a firearm.
But in Alaska, she had no prior criminal record. After her arrest, she was let out of jail on her own recognizance. The pre-trial risk assessment tool judged her to be a low-risk release.
How low did she score on the risk assessment?
On a scale of zero-10, she scored zero.
Why so low?
The tool only considers criminal history from Alaska, and Malcolm had just arrived from California two weeks prior to the shooting, in which no one was hurt.
Where is she now?
The judge issued a warrant for Malcolm’s arrest.
What’s the background on the catch-and-release part of SB 91?
Gov. Walker signed SB 91 into law in 2016, and it radically changed how justice is served in Alaska. Fewer people spend time incarcerated under its provisions.
The SB 91 automated bail system went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Conditions of release are done via a computer algorithm and the system added a huge new Department of Corrections Pre-Trial Enforcement Division, with 65 new armed state personnel assigned to it.
These officers conduct the pretrial risk assessments. The system is said to be “color blind,” and therefore racially neutral.
Typically, only those who score a 10 on the risk assessment are held in jail before trial, although a judge can take other conditions into account.
Two of the other defendants in the shootout have also been released. Tajean Grant-McKay is out after posting bail, even though he had a prior warrant for his arrest at the time of the shootout on Jan. 27. Ebon Moore also bonded out.
Update/clarification: Some defendants charged with low level or non-violent offenses, and who are assessed as low risk, are required to be released without having to pay money bail.
When a defendant is released without paying bail, a judge may impose “conditions of release” on the defendant.
In the case of Malcolm, the judge could have imposed an unsecured bond (a promise to pay money if she failed on release), and/or ordered her to be supervised by the pretrial enforcement division, and other conditions.