Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/31/2004 01:20 PM House JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 probation. 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 charged: 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 treatment. 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 surcharges." REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS agreed to object for the purpose of discussion. 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 Committee.