Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/09/2003 01:45 PM House FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 49 An Act relating to the DNA identification registration system; and providing for an effective date. REPRESENTATIVE TOM ANDERSON noted that HB 49 would expand the Alaska State database of DNA samples to include all persons convicted of a crime against a person or any felony under Alaska's criminal code. It would also require the collection of DNA samples from those juveniles adjudicated as a delinquent for the same offense. Additionally, HB 49 makes provisions for volunteer and anonymous donations. Persons required registering, as sex offenders are also required to submit DNA into the database. HB 49 would require that all offenders and minors currently incarcerated on State supervised parole for felony convictions or certain sexual misdemeanor offenses provide samples to the Department of Public Safety. Representative Anderson stated that expanding the databases to include all convicted offenders would have multiple benefits: · Solves crimes - DNA collection from all convicted felons, rather than just sex offenders and perpetrators of serious violent crimes, which would result in an increase in the amount of violent crimes solved. Offenders who are required to submit DNA when convicted of non-violent felonies would be identified as they leave DNA behind at a rape and/or murder scene. · Prevents crimes, helps solving a crime, and solving it quickly, which has a direct effect on preventing additional crimes by the same perpetrator. An offender who is not apprehended in a timely manner remains free to commit more crimes. · Exonerates the innocent - Increases the DNA database to those convicted of non-violent offenses, which would reduce the occurrence of innocent people who are wrongly suspected, arrested and convicted of crimes they did not commit. Two common scenarios exemplify how a larger DNA database protects such innocent people, one where the guilty party is listed and secondly, where the innocent party is in the database. · Increases Cost Efficiencies - According to a study completed by the National Institute of Justice, rape is the costliest crime in America, in which victim costs can total up to $127 billion dollars. The study estimated that when all factors are considered, the estimated cost of rape per victim is $87,000. If the average rapist commits eight rapes, but a DNA databank stops the offender half way through the spree, then four rapes are prevented creating a savings of $348,000 dollars. Representative Anderson identified the numerous agencies indicating support and letters of endorsement ranging from the Chief of Police Association to the Alaska Peace Officers Association. The fiscal note indicates zero because federal funding is concurrent with the program. President Bush has indicated that he intends to supplement this cause with over $1 billion dollars of continuous funding for the program to make it state and nationwide. Representative Croft referenced Page 3, Lines 27 & 28, "law enforcement cases including". He asked if there was any limitation on the law enforcement. He stated he was concerned about how broad that language was. Representative Anderson explained that language was taken from original law. He assumed that the federal government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has different regulations, however, they would be able to utilize the same information through the coded system. Representative Croft mentioned the "parameters" of the language. He questioned the basic protections in the bill from misuse. Representative Anderson referred that question to Ms. Carpeneti from the Attorney General's Office, Department of Law. Co-Chair Harris referenced the indeterminate fiscal note from the Department of Administration, Public Defender Agency. He asked what would happen if that note was zeroed out. LINDA WILSON, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), DEPUTY PUBLIC DEFENDER AGENCY, ANCHORAGE, commented that their agency cannot predict what the fiscal impact is going to be. Ms. Wilson claimed that the legislation would significantly increase the number of cases for the number of crimes, which a person may have to submit a sample. There currently are 32 offenses and the legislation would add over 80 more for which a person must submit a DNA sample. The legislation would include those on probation or parole on the effective date. That creates a very broad reach. Ms. Wilson had no idea how many cases it would include. She reiterated that the note was indeterminate because there is no way for the Agency to predict the impact. Co-Chair Harris inquired if the Public Defender Agency had received a supplemental request this year. Ms. Wilson acknowledged that they had. CHRIS BEHEIM, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), DIRECTOR, STATE CRIME LAB, ANCHORAGE, testified that the DNA database has had a positive impact on law enforcement. It has aided 34 different investigations this past year. The State of Alaska has one of the more successful databases in the country. He added that the State could do better by collecting the DNA from all felons and individuals convicted of sex offenses. Mr. Beheim reiterated that the legislation could enhance the current system even more. At this time, there are approximately 140 unsolved homicides and sexual assault cases and with an expanded database, the number of unsolved crimes could increase. He concluded that this is an extremely important tool for law enforcement that is cost effective. BRUCE RICHTER, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), PROGRAM MANAGER, NATIOANL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONAL TECHNOLOGY CENTER, ANCHORAGE, stated that the legislation would be the single most cost effective tool that the State could give law enforcement for expanding their reach of the database. The success of other states could be reflected in what will happen in Alaska. Mr. Richter trusted that the down-stream federal funding would come. Representative Croft inquired about the Alaskan success stories. Mr. Beheim listed various sexual assault situations that have occurred throughout the State and how the DNA technology helped solve those crimes. He elaborated that this indicates the power of DNA to both exonerate and bring people to justice. JENNIFER ESTERAL, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU), ANCHORAGE, voiced opposition to the proposed bill. She noted that ACLU urges an end to the progressive expansion of the collection of the DNA. She stressed that this is not only fingerprinting and that DNA provides the government control over personal and private information. Ms. Esteral stressed that the laws are becoming progressively more inclusive. DNA is now being collected before the crime has happened. Ms. Esteral pointed out that the ACLU supports the use of DNA database for positive medical, scientific, and forensic purposes; however, she stressed that there is tremendous potential for abuse and that HB 49 does not create any safeguards. Representative Joule asked if there had been cases of misuse from the DNA collection base. Mr. Beheim responded that there has never been a case where the DNA database sample was misused. He added that there are many safeguards involved. It can be used only for identification and law enforcement identification purposes. Mr. Richter added that once that the crime lab has made confirmation of identification, that information serves as the application base for a search warrant. He emphasized that there are checks and balances built into the current system. ANNE CARPENETI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, LEGAL SERVICES SECTION, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, voiced the Department's support for the bill and offered to answer questions of the Committee. Representative Croft questioned if there should be any constraints placed on law enforcement use of the DNA. Ms. Carpeneti explained the language referenced currently is in existing law. She pointed out that the word "including" was added because law enforcement attempted to identify missing body parts from victims. That language has been effective since the DNA concern was enacted. She interjected that there have been no problems to date and that the bill does contain protections. Representative Whitaker commented on the possible elimination of federal funding and that the Legislature should recognize the potential costs associated with the bill. He voiced his support. Representative Foster MOVED to report CS HB 49 (JUD) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CS HB 49 (JUD) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with zero fiscal note #1 by the Department of Public Safety, zero fiscal note #2 by the Department of Law, and fiscal note #3 by the Department of Administration.