Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/31/2004 01:20 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 484 - CORRECTIONS: FEES/SURCHARGE                                                                                          
Number 0225                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  484, "An  Act imposing  a correctional  facility                                                               
surcharge on  persons convicted of  a crime under state  law, and                                                               
on  persons whose  probation  is revoked;  relating  to fees  and                                                               
expenses  for interstate  transfer  of probation  or parole;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
Number 0119                                                                                                                     
PORTIA PARKER, Deputy Commissioner,  Office of the Commissioner -                                                               
Juneau,  Department  of  Corrections  (DOC),  said  that  HB  484                                                               
imposes a correctional facilities  surcharge.  The surcharge will                                                               
be  $100   for  felony  convictions,  and   $50  for  misdemeanor                                                               
convictions.   As currently written,  the surcharge  only applies                                                               
to those  who are convicted or  plead no contest.   The surcharge                                                               
will be  part of the  court judgment and  be included as  a court                                                               
fee, and  so it wouldn't set  up a whole new  collection process.                                                               
The bill  also imposes a  $100 fee  as a condition  of probation,                                                               
but this fee  would be suspended unless  the probationer violates                                                               
TAPE 04-55, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MS. PARKER  said that the  second part of  HB 484 imposes  a $100                                                               
application  filing fee  for  a  person who  is  on probation  or                                                               
parole  and wishes  to  go  out of  state  and  be supervised  in                                                               
another state  in conjunction with  the interstate compact.   She                                                               
noted that most other states already  charge this fee.  The third                                                               
part of  HB 484  involves a requirement  that the  probationer or                                                               
parolee  going out  of state  come up  with a  $1,250 bond.   She                                                               
relayed that  a big cost to  the state - specifically  the Alaska                                                               
State Troopers -  involves having to go and  get probationers and                                                               
parolees  who've   gone  to  other  states   and  violated  their                                                               
probation or parole.  It can  cost anywhere from $1,500 to $9,000                                                               
to retrieve one offender, and the  state is retrieving one to two                                                               
offenders every week.                                                                                                           
Number 0121                                                                                                                     
BARBARA BRINK,  Director, Central Office, Public  Defender Agency                                                               
(PDA), Department  of Administration (DOA), said  that she wished                                                               
to speak about  the surcharge proposed in HB 484  and how it fits                                                               
in  with  all  the  other surcharges  that  are  currently  being                                                               
imposed.   She  said that  her fear,  and the  fear of  those who                                                               
represent indigent Alaskans  - is that the state  is beginning to                                                               
impose  burdens  on people  that  are  just impossible  to  meet.                                                               
Currently,  80  percent  of  all criminal  cases  in  Alaska  are                                                               
represented by public counsel -  either someone from the PDA, the                                                               
Office  of Public  Advocacy (OPA),  or an  OPA contractor.   What                                                               
should be remembered is that  those who are released from custody                                                               
have  financial  obligations  to  meet and  perhaps  families  to                                                               
support.   Frankly,  because of  a lot  of the  mandatory minimum                                                               
sentences in  Alaska, even those charged  with misdemeanor crimes                                                               
have  lost their  jobs and  face  additional stigmatization  when                                                               
trying to find employment.   Often their most pressing obligation                                                               
is paying  child support  and restitution for  their crimes.   In                                                               
addition, most  are disqualified from receiving  a permanent fund                                                               
dividend (PFD), so that can't be tapped to pay surcharges.                                                                      
MS. BRINK offered the following  synopsis of what people who find                                                               
themselves  in  the criminal  justice  system  are already  being                                                               
     First  of all,  we  have mandatory  minimum fines  that                                                                    
     range from $1,500 to $10,000  - just for [driving while                                                                    
     under  the influence  (DUI)].   We  already  do have  a                                                                    
     surcharge;  there's   already  a  $100   surcharge  for                                                                    
     felonies, a  $50 surcharge for misdemeanors,  and a $75                                                                    
     misdemeanor   [DUI]  surcharge.     I'm   not  entirely                                                                    
     positive,  but   I  think  that   money  goes   to  law                                                                    
     enforcement officer  training.  If a  client is ordered                                                                    
     to go to  ASAP [Alcohol Safety Action  Program] and get                                                                    
     some  treatment   or  at  least  an   assessment  as  a                                                                    
     condition of his sentence, that's  a $100 fee per case,                                                                    
     and ASAP will not take them  until they come up with at                                                                    
     least 50  percent of that  fee.  So  sometimes, someone                                                                    
     who needs treatment  and wants to go  to treatment just                                                                    
     has to  come up  with the  cold, hard  cash to  get the                                                                    
MS. BRINK added:                                                                                                                
     Then, in  [DUI] cases, we  already force people  to pay                                                                    
     their cost of imprisonment.   This can range from a low                                                                    
     of  $236.40   for  72  hour  mandatory   minimum  [DUI]                                                                    
     sentence,  up to  $2,000 for  a felony  sentence.   And                                                                    
     under  Rule  39  [of  the   Alaska  Rules  of  Criminal                                                                    
     Procedure], they  also have to  pay for their  costs of                                                                    
     counsel;  they have  to pay  a minimum  of $250  for an                                                                    
     easy misdemeanor  that settles  quickly, and  a maximum                                                                    
     of up to  $5,000 for a more serious case  that goes all                                                                    
     the way to  trial.  So I ... think  that we're imposing                                                                    
     burdens  that   instead  of  providing   incentive  and                                                                    
     rehabilitation,  give people  a  sense of  helplessness                                                                    
     and frustration.                                                                                                           
Number 0344                                                                                                                     
     And  the  felony  study recently  done  by  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Judicial Council  (AJC) indicates that ...  our Alaskan                                                                    
     defendants serve more time  than ... similarly situated                                                                    
     people outside.   I wouldn't want to  also increase our                                                                    
     surcharges  so that  we  are the  most  onerous in  the                                                                    
     country.   My  other  point is  that  in particular  it                                                                    
     seems kind  of onerous to  impose a  fee of $100  and a                                                                    
     bond  requirement   for  those  who  want   to  get  an                                                                    
     interstate  transfer.    Studies have  shown  that  the                                                                    
     single  most significant  factor in  the rehabilitation                                                                    
     of  a  person  is  the support  of  families  in  their                                                                    
     efforts to lead a law-abiding life.                                                                                        
     What we know  is that many of the  clients we represent                                                                    
     here in  Alaska aren't  from Alaska, don't  have family                                                                    
     here,  and  have come  up  here  to take  advantage  of                                                                    
     economic  opportunities, maybe  even seasonal  economic                                                                    
     opportunities.    It  seems   like  we  would  want  to                                                                    
     encourage  those people  who  have  family and  support                                                                    
     networks  outside   to  go  and  to   be  a  successful                                                                    
     probationer,  rather  than  ... forcing  them  to  stay                                                                    
     here, especially when they get  out of jail and have no                                                                    
     support, no money, and have to struggle.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said, "Leave town."                                                                                         
MS. BRINK continued:                                                                                                            
     Finally, I think that there  is some discretion in this                                                                    
     bill that  it could be  unfairly applied.  And  it does                                                                    
     seem like there's a difference  if you get summonsed in                                                                    
     or  if  you  get  arrested  - even  if  you  post  bail                                                                    
     immediately that day, you're booked  in a facility.  If                                                                    
     the [district  attorney] chooses to summon  you in, you                                                                    
     don't  get  assessed  a  fee,   and  if  the  [district                                                                    
     attorney]  just says,  "I don't  have time  to issue  a                                                                    
     summons, just go get a  warrant," ... it can be totally                                                                    
     arbitrary.   There  aren't any  standards for  who gets                                                                    
     arrested and who  gets summonsed in, so even  in a case                                                                    
     so minor that the defendant  gets no jail time imposed,                                                                    
     once  the case  is resolved,  the [surcharge]  would be                                                                    
     imposed.  Thank you Madam Chair ....                                                                                       
Number 0498                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that HB 484  would be set aside  for the                                                               
purpose  of returning  to the  hearing on  HB 474.   [HB  484 was                                                               
taken up again later in the meeting.]                                                                                           
HB 484-CORRECTIONS: FEES/SURCHARGE                                                                                            
Number 1239                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  committee would return  to the                                                               
hearing on  HOUSE BILL NO.  484, "An Act imposing  a correctional                                                               
facility surcharge  on persons convicted  of a crime  under state                                                               
law, and on persons whose  probation is revoked; relating to fees                                                               
and expenses for interstate transfer  of probation or parole; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  determining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 484.                                                                                     
Number 1274                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE made  a motion  to adopt  Amendment 1,  which read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Page 2, lines 5 and 6:                                                                                                     
          Delete:  ", as a condition of probation,"                                                                             
     Page 2, line 14:                                                                                                           
          Between "under" and "this" insert:  "(a) of"                                                                          
     Page 2, line 15:                                                                                                           
          After "conviction." insert:  "The court shall                                                                         
     include  the imposition  of a  surcharge  under (c)  of                                                                    
     this section in the order revoking probation."                                                                             
     Page 2, line 20:                                                                                                           
          After "28.30.032(o)." insert:  "The state may                                                                         
     enforce  payment  of  a surcharge  under  this  section                                                                    
     under  AS  09.35  as  if   it  were  a  civil  judgment                                                                    
     enforceable  by execution.   This  subsection does  not                                                                    
     limit   the  authority   of   the   court  to   enforce                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  agreed  to  object for  the  purpose  of                                                               
Number 1301                                                                                                                     
PORTIA PARKER, Deputy Commissioner,  Office of the Commissioner -                                                               
Juneau,   Department  of   Corrections   (DOC),  explained   that                                                               
Amendment 1  contains changes suggested  by the  [Collections and                                                               
Support  Section]   of  the  Department   of  Law  (DOL).     She                                                               
elaborated, "Because the way it  was originally drafted, as ... a                                                               
condition  of  probation, [it]  didn't  work  for being  able  to                                                               
collect  the  surcharge if  the  ...  probation was  revoked;  it                                                               
couldn't be a  condition of probation, so they had  to the change                                                               
the  language  so it  would  work  as  far  as how  they  collect                                                               
surcharges and fees."                                                                                                           
Number 1328                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS removed his objection.                                                                                   
Number 1334                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there were any further objections to                                                                
Amendment 1.  There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARA, speaking on the bill itself, said:                                                                         
     It seems to me that  the ... [three] highest priorities                                                                    
     in  the  criminal  system  ...  are:    to  the  extent                                                                    
     possible,  restitution to  the victim;  punishment; and                                                                    
     rehabilitation.   And often, when you  do something, it                                                                    
     has an  unintended consequence.  One  of the unintended                                                                    
     consequences [in]  some of these  cases is going  to be                                                                    
     that by giving  money to the state  for booking charges                                                                    
     - and  we're requiring  people even who  aren't jailed,                                                                    
     as part  of their sentence,  to do  that - ...  you may                                                                    
     impact  somebody's  ability  to pay  restitution  to  a                                                                    
     victim.   You may  impact an indigent  person's ability                                                                    
     to get back on their feet.   You may impact an indigent                                                                    
     person's  ability to  provide child  support when  they                                                                    
     get out of  jail.  That's certainly  [what] will happen                                                                    
     in some cases, we just don't know how many.                                                                                
     I understand  the competing interest, which  is to make                                                                    
     sure that  people who commit  crimes cost as  little to                                                                    
     society as possible.   And I'm not  comfortable that by                                                                    
     passing  this  bill,  we  won't  have  some  unintended                                                                    
     consequences  that  impact  some  people's  ability  to                                                                    
     rehabilitate   themselves,  in   fact,  [impact]   some                                                                    
     people's  ability to  pay restitution  to victims,  and                                                                    
     impact  some   people's  ability  to  care   for  their                                                                    
     children  when  they  get out.    We're  talking  about                                                                    
     people who live below  the economic margin already; ...                                                                    
     most  people who  go through  the  criminal system  are                                                                    
     already  indigent,  and,  when they  get  out,  they're                                                                    
     likely not  to have a  job waiting  for them.   So they                                                                    
     certainly don't deserve any  [more] sympathy than their                                                                    
     situation  dictates,  certainly  many of  these  people                                                                    
     have  committed quite  horrific crimes,  [but] some  of                                                                    
     them have  committed very minor  crimes ....   I'm just                                                                    
     not convinced that  on balance this is  the right thing                                                                    
     to do.   I'm  don't think I'm  convinced either  way at                                                                    
     this point.                                                                                                                
Number 1484                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  moved to report  HB 484, as  amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying  fiscal  note.    There  being  no  objection,  CSHB
484(JUD)  was   reported  from   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects