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24th Legislature(2005-2006)

Journal Text for SB218 in the 24th Legislature


Full Journal
	
02-16-2006 Senate Journal 2207
SB 218
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 218(FIN) "An Act relating to sex
offenders and child kidnappers; relating to reporting of sex offenders
and child kidnappers; relating to periodic polygraph examinations for
sex offenders released on probation or parole; relating to sexual abuse
of a minor; relating to the definitions of 'aggravated sex offense' and
'child kidnapping'; relating to penalties for failure to report child abuse
or neglect; relating to sentencing for sex offenders and habitual
criminals; and providing for an effective date" was read the third time.

Senators Bunde, Guess offered the following Letter of Intent:

                                Letter of Intent

             The Purposes And Rationale Underlying The Increase In
     Sentencing Ranges For Felony Sex Crimes In Alaska

            Senate Bill 218 adopts longer sentences for, and closer
          supervision of, convicted sex offenders.  These changes are
     appropriate in light of the following:
       (1) Statistical studies about sexual assault and abuse in America,
     and more specifically, in Alaska;
          (2) The growing body of knowledge about the actual number of
        victims per sex offender and the resistance of sex offenders to
     rehabilitative treatment;
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2208
     (3) The purposes of criminal sentencing set out in AS 12.55.005
     and Chaney v. State, 447 P.2d 441 (Alaska 1970);
     (4) The principles of penal administration set out Article I,
     section 12 of the Alaska Constitution that gives precedence to
     protection of the public and community condemnation; and
     (5) The rights of crime victims under Article I, section 24, of the
     Alaska Constitution.

     Sexual assault and abuse in Alaska can be classified as a plague.
     Alaska has been ranked number one in the nation for 22 out of
     the last 29 years for sexual assault and abuse. Alaska has been
                                                                                                1
     number one in the nation for sexual assault since 1995.  In
     addition, Alaska has never been ranked below number five in the
     nation for sexual assaults per capita (forcible rapes per 100,000
     residents) since 1976, when data collection began. The State
     currently has approximately 2.5 times the national average for
                           1
     sexual assault.Alaska has about 4,300 registered sex offenders
                                                 2
     in our Alaskan communities.

     Even with startlingly high sex offense rates, sexual abuse and
     assault are still largely unreported crimes (only 16 percent of
                                           3
     victims report the assault); and arrest rates are also low (only 27
                                                                                 4
     percent of reported sex crimes result in an arrest).   Therefore
     we can assume, the actual number of sex offenders in Alaska is
     significantly higher than 4,300 individuals.

     Institutional treatment programs (cognitive-behavioral, relapse
     prevention and behavioral) provided to sex offenders both in
     other states and in Alaska have not proven to be particularly
                   5
     effective.Offenders who served time for sexual assault were
     four times as likely as those convicted of other crimes to be re-
     arrested for a new sexual assault. The more prior arrests an
     offender has, the greater their likelihood for being re-arrested for
                                 5
     another sex crime.

     Forty-three percent of sex offenders re-offend within three
              6
     years. Currently, 78.5 percent of sex offenders have at least one
                                                                          6
     prior arrest and average 4.5 prior arrests.  In Alaska, the
     statistics are even more startling: of the 927 convicted sex
     offenders in custody on January 24, 2006, 93 percent have at
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2209
     least one prior arrest; the average number of arrests per sex
     offender is 11.75; and more than 41 percent have been arrested
                                7
     ten or more times.

     Sex offenders average 110 victims and 318 offenses before being
                8
     caught. Sex offenders admitted to 3.5 times the number of
     victims and 4.5 times the number of offenses when given a
     polygraph exam as compared to questioning without a
     polygraph.  Offenders under polygraph examination also report
     an earlier age when they began offending than was previously
                9
     known.

                                                                                            8
     Sex offenders go undetected for an average of 16 years,which
     explains how they can have so many victims.  It also suggests
     that offenders begin raping when they are relatively young, and
     indeed the average age of onset of the criminal sexual behavior
                                                                      8
     for offenders is between 12 and 16 years.  Early detection and
     intervention in sex offenses committed by juveniles may be one
     promising way of addressing sex crimes generally, especially in
     the future.  However, sex offenses committed by juveniles are a
     topic that is beyond the scope of Senate Bill 218, which deals
     with the immediate plague facing Alaska involving adult sex
     offenders.

     The Alaska appellate courts have sometimes questioned whether
     decisions by the legislature in setting presumptive sentences
     were intended to achieve the results they did; in some instances
     the courts have reduced the presumptive sentence to avoid
                                     10
     "anomalous" results.  In the case of sentence ranges imposed
     by Senate Bill 218, the result of greatly increased sentences are,
     indeed, intended.  The increased sentences in Senate Bill 218 are
     in recognition that the harm and severity of injury caused by sex
     offenses has been greatly under-recognized by the criminal
     justice system.  Sex offenses are crimes of violence and much
     like domestic violence they are about power and control.  The
     victims are typically vulnerable due to their age, incapacity or
     the offender's position of authority.  Sex offenses against young
     victims are particularly heinous and the sentences in Senate Bill
     218 reflect the increased seriousness of choosing a young victim
     by increasing the sentencing ranges for the most serious offenses
     committed against victims less than 13 years of age.
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2210
     In drafting Senate Bill 218, the conduct covered by each
     category of offense was carefully examined.  Reclassification of
     conduct was considered, and for some offenses implemented.
     The sentencing ranges contained in Senate Bill 218 reflect the
     legislature's view of the appropriate sentence for the cases
     involving the conduct described by the particular statute.  The
     ranges are large enough to accommodate the wide-ranging types
     of conduct contained within these statutes - particularly in the B
     and C felony range.

     In Senate Bill 218, the low end of the range for the most serious
     sex offenses is higher than the mandatory minimum or low end

     of presumptive sentences for some crimes that result in death.
     This is intentional and not anomalous.  Sex offenses cause great
     harm to victims, their families and to the entire community.
     Death has always been seen as the greatest harm that could be
     inflicted by an offender.  But death can be caused by reckless
     conduct.  Sex offenses are not reckless - they are at the very
     least knowing, and often intentional. The proportionality of the
     sentences imposed by Senate Bill 218 to other offenses in our
     criminal code was considered.  The severity of the sentences in
     comparison to other crimes was intentional.

     The "prior criminal history of the defendant and the likelihood of
     rehabilitation" is another recognized consideration in
                      12
     sentencing.  The sentence ranges in Senate Bill 218 start at
     increasingly higher levels when an offender has a prior record of
     both non-sex related felonies and sexual felonies.  This change
     takes into account the decreased potential for rehabilitation with
     each successive conviction.  It also recognizes the lack of
     effective treatment for most sex offenders.

     The "need to confine the defendant to prevent further harm to the
                                                                                            13
     public" is a factor also considered by Senate Bill 218.  The
     evidence that sex offenders have multiple victims and often do
     not respond to treatment supports the need for confinement to
     protect the public.

     Another sentencing consideration is "the circumstances of the
     offense and the extent to which the offense harmed the victim or
                                                                     14
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2211
     abuse and assault suffer from the effects of the crime for years.
     When sexually abused boys are not treated, it makes it more
     likely they will be involved in committing crimes, suicide, drug
                                       15
     use and continued sexual abuse.  Young girls who are sexually
     assaulted are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and are six
     times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders and 13 times
                                                   16
     more likely to attempt suicide.

     Although judges must take into account "the circumstances of
     the offense and the extent to which the offense harmed the
     victim" on a case-by-case basis in determining the specific
     sentence within a statutory range, in setting those ranges the
     legislature must take into account the harm to victims generally,
     and the extent which sex crimes impact the community as a
     whole.  With the latter criteria and in light of the aforementioned
     statistics, we the Alaska State Legislature find sentences for sex
     offenses should be increased significantly.

     The effect of sex offenses on the victim, and the victim's family,
     is enormous.  But the effect on the fabric of society is no less
     important to consider in setting sentence ranges.  In many places
     in Alaska, women are afraid to walk alone in their
     neighborhoods at night, or to let their children go to the park or
     the mall, because of fear that they too may become a victim.
     The estimated financial costs to society are also significant.  In
     2003, 521 victims reported sexual assault in Alaska.  The
     National Institute of Justice estimates that the average cost of
     caring for each victim is $86,500; thus every year Alaska spends
                                                                       17
     about $45 million on sexual assault victims.

     "The effect of the sentence to be imposed in deterring the
     defendant or other members of society from future criminal
                                                        18
     conduct" is also a consideration.  The failure of treatment in
     rehabilitating most sex offenders provides little hope that longer
     sentences will deter future crimes.  However, some categories of
     sex offenses, such as the teacher or coach who may be tempted
     to take advantage of a student, are more likely to be deterred by
     the threat of a long jail term.  For most offenders the hope for
     deterrence in Senate Bill 218 is provided by the increased
     probation periods and the use of the polygraph while on
     probation or parole.  The polygraph will help to provide an early
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2212
     warning system during supervision that will put the probation or
     parole officer on notice that corrective action is necessary due to
     signs of deception or offending behavior.  The use of the
     polygraph should prevent at least some future victimization from
     occurring.

     "Community condemnation," "reaffirmation of societal norms,"
     and "restoration of the victim and the community" are the other
                                                   19
     recognized sentencing factors.  There has been a public outcry
     recently over the failure of our criminal justice system to provide
     for the protection of the public from sex offenders.  The
     community particularly condemns offenses against children.
     The increased sentences of Senate Bill 218 send the message to
     offenders and society: this behavior will not be tolerated nor
     accepted.  The community has good reason to be shocked at the
     sobering statistics relating to sex offenses in Alaska, and to be
     outraged at the conduct underlying those offenses.  Senate Bill
     218 sets forth a sentencing scheme that sets a higher presumptive
     range, particularly for young victims.  Although every sex crime
     is heinous, the community particularly condemns those who prey
     on very young victims.  Additionally, as indicated above,
     offenders who target young victims are more likely to re-offend.
     The increased sentences for offenders with young victims
     recognize these important sentencing factors - community
     condemnation, reaffirmation of societal norms and prospects for
     rehabilitation.

     Finally, in enacting Senate Bill 218, it is recognized that there
     may be the "exceptional" case or circumstance that cries out for
     mercy.  The criminal justice system often weeds these cases out
     in the referral and plea bargaining process.  However, by
     application of existing statutory mitigating factors under AS
     12.55.155, or by referral to the three-judge panel "safety net"
     under AS 12.55.175, the courts of Alaska will be able to avoid
     manifestly unjust sentences in appropriate cases.  At the same
     time, the citizens of Alaska will benefit from the increase in
     safety achieved by longer incarceration of sex offenders
     followed by enhanced supervision using the polygraph.



02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2213
     1
       Uniform Crime Report, FBI, 2003

     2
       Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry, 2006

     3
       Kilpatrick Rape in America Report, 1992

     4
       Snyder, 2000

     5
           Sex Offender Treatment Evaluation Project Report (SOTEP),
     January 2005

     6
           Langdon, Schmitt, and Durose "Recidivism of Sex Offenders
          Released from Prison in 1994", Bureau of Justice Statistics
     November, 2003

     7
          Alaska Department of Corrections, Research Section, January
     2006

     8
               Ahlmeyer, Heil, McKee, and English "The Impact of
           Polygraph on Admissions of Crossover Offending Behavior in
          Adult Sexual Offenses", Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research
     and Treatment, 12(2): 123-138, 2000

     9
             Wilcox and Sosnowski "Polygraph examination of British
          sexual offenders: A pilot study on sexual history disclosure
     testing", Journal of Sexual Aggression, 11(1), 3-25: 2005

     10
         New v. State, 714 P.2d 378 (Alaska 1986); Pruett v. State, 742
            P.2d 257 (Alaska App. 1987); Smith v. State, 28 P.3d 323
     (Alaska App. 2001 AS 12.55.005(1)

     11
        AS 12.55.125 (b)

     12
        AS 12.55.005(2) and Chaney

     13
        AS 12.55.005(3)

     14
        AS 12.55.005(4)

     15
        Holmes, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

     16
        Rape in America: Report to the Nation, 1992

     17
        The National Institute of Justice
02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2214

     18
        AS 12.55.005(5)

     19
        AS 12.55.005(6) and (7)

Senator Bunde moved for the adoption of the Letter of Intent.

The question being: "Shall the Letter of Intent be adopted?" The roll
was taken with the following result:

CSSB 218(FIN)
Adopt Letter of Intent?

YEAS:  19   NAYS:  0   EXCUSED:  1   ABSENT:  0 

Yeas:  Bunde, Cowdery, Davis, Dyson, Ellis, Elton, French, Green,
Guess, Huggins, Kookesh, Olson, Seekins, Stedman, Stevens B,
Stevens G, Therriault, Wagoner, Wilken

Excused:  Hoffman

and so, the Senate Letter of Intent was adopted.

The question being: "Shall CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 218(FIN)
"An Act relating to sex offenders and child kidnappers; relating to
reporting of sex offenders and child kidnappers; relating to periodic
polygraph examinations for sex offenders released on probation or
parole; relating to sexual abuse of a minor; relating to the definitions
of 'aggravated sex offense' and 'child kidnapping'; relating to penalties
for failure to report child abuse or neglect; relating to sentencing for
sex offenders and habitual criminals; and providing for an effective
date" pass the Senate?" The roll was taken with the following result:

CSSB 218(FIN)
Third Reading - Final Passage
Effective Dates

YEAS:  19   NAYS:  0   EXCUSED:  1   ABSENT:  0 

Yeas:  Bunde, Cowdery, Davis, Dyson, Ellis, Elton, French, Green,
Guess, Huggins, Kookesh, Olson, Seekins, Stedman, Stevens B,
Stevens G, Therriault, Wagoner, Wilken

Excused:  Hoffman

02-16-2006                     Senate Journal                           2215
and so, CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 218(FIN) passed the Senate.

Senator Gary Stevens moved and asked unanimous consent that the
vote on the passage of the bill be considered the vote on the effective
date clauses. Without objection, it was so ordered and the bill was
referred to the Secretary for engrossment with a Senate Letter of
Intent.