Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/15/2003 08:02 AM House STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 134-CORRECTIONAL FACILITY EXPANSION [Contains discussion of SB 65 and HB 55.] Number 2790 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the next order of business was HOUSE BILL NO. 134, "An Act authorizing the Department of Corrections to enter into agreements with municipalities for new or expanded public correctional facilities in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Bethel, and the Municipality of Anchorage." Number 2799 The committee took a brief at-ease. Number 2800 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 134, Version 23-LS0563\D, Luckhaupt, 3/31/03, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version D was before the committee. Number 2821 REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE, Alaska State Legislature, as sponsor of HB 134, noted that on page 2, line 19, there is a numerical error. The number should read "$11,000", not "$14,600", he pointed out. Number 2844 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked if there was any objection to [Amendment 1] changing "$14,600" to "$11,000" on page 2, line 19 of Version D. There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 2860 REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE referred to a handout [available in the committee packet] entitled, "DOC Responses To HB 134 Questions Raised By Committee Members In HSTA Hearing - 04/01/03." He referred to another handout [also available in the committee packet] entitled, "Department of Corrections FY 2008 Prison Bed Cost Comparison," which shows the cost comparison between [current use of] the Arizona facility, building a private prison [as proposed in HB 55], and a public prison detail [as proposed in HB 134]. REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE said he is still purporting that HB 134 and its companion bill in the Senate, SB 65, are the best options for Alaska; HB 134 is fiscally competitive and has some advantages, notwithstanding the advantages of the increase in employment through construction, for example. He said, "Our corrections model has shown that we have a professionally manned and safe model of public safety for corrections." He stated his hope that the committee would advance [the model offered in HB 134]. Number 2939 MARC ANTRIM, Commissioner, Department of Corrections (DOC), in response to a question by Chair Weyhrauch, confirmed that the previously cited handout regarding the DOC's answers to HB 134 questions is two pages, and attached to the back of it are two other pages that are not numbered sequentially, which offer an "Alaska Construction Cost Comparison." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH referred to the previously cited handout regarding the prison bed cost comparison and asked why FY 08 was chosen. COMMISSIONER ANTRIM explained that FY 08 is when the other projects [for the proposed private prison and the proposed public prison] would "come on line." TAPE 03-40, SIDE B Number 2965 COMMISSIONER ANTRIM, in response to a question by Chair Weyhrauch regarding whether this analysis is an updating of preexisting data, said he thinks that the proposals in the past have been so different that it would be safe to say that a comparison of this type has not been done. That, he added, is one of the reasons that the debate has gotten "so muddied up." Number 2935 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH remarked that he has never seen an accurate estimate on construction costs in Alaska. COMMISSIONER ANTRIM responded by referring to the second page of the ["Alaska Construction Cost Comparison"]. He pointed out that the "Anchorage Jail," at $264 a square foot, is highlighted. One of the committee members, he said, had asked at the April 1 hearing on HB 134 for a comparison between per- foot prison construction costs and other construction costs in the state. He commented that the square-foot cost of the jail in Anchorage is [within the range] of the other public construction costs listed. Number 2877 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH recalled that at a previous hearing, perhaps regarding HB 55, a testifier had revealed that the construction in the Anchorage jail facility would be primarily for detainees of INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service, now replaced by agencies under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security]. He said the expansion of that facility was, he thought, 100-percent reimbursable from federal money available for the INS detainees. He asked Commissioner Antrim if that is his understanding. Number 2864 COMMISSIONER ANTRIM answered, "That is correct." He said the U.S. Marshall service requested that project and brought it to [the DOC] to pursue. He said INS activities and activities of the offices of the U.S. Marshall in Anchorage and Juneau are expected to increase. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked if the legislature needs to do anything in order for the state to obtain those federal funds to begin the expansion of the Anchorage facility for the INS detainees. COMMISSIONER ANTRIM stated his understanding that simply passing [HB 134] will give "us" the federal receipt authority to accept those funds from the federal government, once they are allocated by Congress. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked, "Is that contemplated by HB 134?" He clarified, "That proposal would go forward if [HB] 134 becomes law." COMMISSIONER ANTRIM responded yes. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked, "Is the expansion of the Anchorage facility and obtaining the federal funds for those INS detainees - is that something that should be settled, in case something ... untoward [should] happen to ... these bills through the process, to ensure that that one actually does come into effect?" COMMISSIONER ANTRIM suggested that Representative Stoltze may be better suited to answer that question. Notwithstanding that, he said he would recommend that "we just keep involved in one package." He added, "We feel fairly confident that money is going to come our way." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH interjected, "But only if [HB] 134 passes in its present shape. Is that correct?" COMMISSIONER ANTRIM said he thinks that the federal funding would be received anyway. He added, "Really, this is whether we can receive it and present it to the legislature for authorization for construction." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said, "So, you mean that the State of Alaska will get the federal funds for construction of the INS jail expansion of Anchorage, whether we pass a law or not?" COMMISSIONER ANTRIM clarified that it is [DOC's] anticipation that the two separate bodies [the U.S. Congress and the Alaska State Legislature] will be doing their work and working toward a common purpose. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ, regarding the subject of those individuals who are going to be detained, stated his understanding that the current practice is to ship them out pretty quickly, primarily to Portland. He asked, "Are we going to be holding them longer in state?" He indicated that there are "attorney access issues" he must raise. COMMISSIONER ANTRIM reiterated that the U.S. Marshals predict increased activity, and he noted that the anticipation is that those held in the Anchorage area will be there longer. Most detainees go to the detention center in Seattle, and then on to Portland. Currently, he noted that there is a contract to hold 50 prisoners statewide. At any given time, he said, there is an average of 80-90 in the system - currently that number is 110, which exceeds the contract by over double. He opined that the project [proposal for] 200 beds is reasonable. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked, regarding those individuals [being detained], if [the state] is paid a nightly cost by the feds, and is "making money on it." COMMISSIONER ANTRIM answered yes. He said that is essentially how the cost of staffing the expansion will be covered. Number 2635 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to adopt [Conceptual Amendment 2], a set of four written amendments that had been presented on one page, with three handwritten changes. With the handwritten changes, Conceptual Amendment 2 read as follows [original punctuation provided, but some text formatting changed]: Amendment #1: HB 134 is amended on Page 2, line 5, to read: (b) The Department of Corrections, not later than July 1, 2008, may enter into an agreement with the Municipality of Seward for expansion of an existing facility by up to 400 beds. Amendment #2: HB 134 is amended on Page 2, line 6, to read: (c) The authorizations given by (a) and (b) of this section are subject to the following conditions: Amendment #3: HB 134 is amended on Page 2, line 21, to read: ...$14,600 a bed for the Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seward facilities, with an adjustment for inflation for the Seward costs. Amendment #4: HB 134 is amended on Page 2, line 22, to read: (4) Expansion of the existing facility in Seward is conditional upon the Municipality of Seward doing the following to the satisfaction of the Department of Corrections: making land available for housing development. Expansion of the existing facility in Seward is also conditional upon the Alaska Vocational Technical Center developing a corrections training program. Number 2593 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ objected for purposes of discussion. He asked if there is a reason why HB 134 is limited to designated geographic areas, rather than giving the department the authority to expand facilities that exist throughout the state. For example, he said he noticed that the Lemon Creek Correctional Facility is not listed. Number 2579 REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE responded that [the designated geographic areas were chosen] based upon the greatest need and "the most economic prisons." Number 2559 COMMISSIONER ANTRIM mentioned studying where the most at- capacity, at-risk facilities were, and which facilities serve as regional gathering centers for prisoners from outlying small communities. He said, "And clearly, we've got major problems at Bethel and Fairbanks, which is why those two were put on [a] priority list." He reiterated that [the proposal to expand the facility in] Anchorage is based on the federal government's needs. In response to a question by Representative Berkowitz, he said yes, initially the Spring Creek Correctional Facility was excluded for a reason and [Conceptual Amendment 2] speaks to that. He explained, "We felt the priority at this time was to put beds in the Anchorage area, where the prisoners originate from, rather than doing a major expansion [in] an outlying area." He mentioned future years, but then returned attention to [Conceptual Amendment 2]. Number 2485 REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked whether "Amendment #3" of Conceptual [Amendment 2] should read $14,600 or should read $11,000 [to reflect Amendment 1]. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON answered, "No, that's also back to $11,000." REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE stated, "That should stay at $14,600. These are ... smaller expansions, and they don't have the economy of the 1,200-bed facility, so that needs to stay at that higher number, unfortunately." Number 2449 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ recollected that at one point there had been an intention to expand the Spring Creek Correctional Facility. Number 2438 COMMISSIONER ANTRIM said that is correct. He said that essentially, all of the "dirt work" has been done in the area, as well as much of the supporting infrastructure, for example, sewer and water, so many of the expenses normally associated with a project like that have been taken care of. Number 2422 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, speaking to [Conceptual Amendment 2] as it relates to the Spring Creek Correctional Facility, expounded upon Commissioner Antrim's answer by listing additional parts of the facility that are already in place. He said the facility was designed with three modules on one side and is ready for another three adjacent to them. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that the Spring Creek Correctional Facility has had a problem retaining correctional officers, which he said brings up the question of whether there may be enough people who want to live in an area that is not highly populated. He noted that [Conceptual Amendment 2] would make expansion of existing facility in Seward conditional upon making land available for housing development. He mentioned that the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) in Seward is starting a pre-training program for correctional officers and homeland security [agents], and those who train there from other smaller communities may become familiar with Seward during that pre- training [and may want to remain there]. Number 2242 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he thinks [Conceptual Amendment 2] is a good idea. Regarding the amendment, he asked why there is only an adjustment for inflation in the Seward facility, but not in the other facilities. REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE replied that that's because there is a delayed date; [the expansion of the existing facility in Seward] is conditional upon the city developing some of the infrastructure. He said he would love to see a facility on the [Kenai] Peninsula employ the residents there. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG referred to the last sentence [of Conceptual Amendment 2], which states that the expansion of the Seward facility would also be conditional upon developing a correctional training program. He said, "I'd hate to see this stymied because they refuse to or couldn't do something like that." Number 2140 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON reiterated that Seward is developing a program for training homeland security agents, for example. He said the city is working with the DOC in this effort. He said he thinks [Conceptual Amendment 2] encourages Seward to proceed with that program. He opined that the pre-training program is needed to remedy a statewide problem in retaining correctional officers. Number 2088 COMMISSIONER ANTRIM said he thinks the point of the training program is to get people to consider being a correctional officer as a career move. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he understands that. He said there would probably be some kind of a fiscal note regarding this issue, and he said he is just wondering if some kind of direction [from the legislature] requesting [Seward] to do this is necessary. Number 2048 REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE responded that he is not sure that there would be a fiscal note, because the facility trains people for jobs and would be training people to work in jobs that pay pretty well and that actually exist right in town. COMMISSIONER ANTRIM, in response to a question by Representative Gruenberg, said AVTEC is always looking for new direction, so he thinks that it will "grasp this pretty quickly." He referred to wording that had been deleted by the handwritten changes to Conceptual Amendment 2 before it was presented to the committee: "developing economic opportunities in the Municipality for spousal employment of facility staff." He said that would be a tough thing to ask of the city, but said he hopes Seward will work diligently to develop economic opportunities for people [so they will want to remain in that community]. Number 1988 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said the city would be happy to develop any kind of employment base, but the foregoing wording that was omitted was "just going too far." REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that [because that wording had already been crossed out] the word "and" should be added and the "e" in "Expansion" should be lower case; therefore, ["Amendment #4" of Conceptual Amendment 2] would read as follows: Amendment #4 HB 134 is amended on Page 2, line 22, to read: (4) Expansion of the existing facility in Seward is conditional upon the Municipality of Seward doing the following to the satisfaction of the Department of Corrections: making land available for housing development and expansion of the existing facility in Seward is also conditional upon the Alaska Vocational Technical Center developing a corrections training program. [There was no motion to adopt the foregoing amendment to Conceptual Amendment 2, but it was treated as adopted.] Number 1930 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH indicated that there would be changes to the fiscal note if [Conceptual Amendment 2, as amended] were adopted. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON referred to page 2, [beginning on] line 24 [of HB 134], which read as follows: payments under the lease may not exceed $16,700 a bed for the Bethel facility and $14,600 a bed for the Fairbanks and Anchorage facilities; REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said the $14,600 is the same number as for the Fairbanks facility, because of the size of the facility. He explained that [Conceptual Amendment 2, as amended] would be to "add Seward to Fairbanks and Anchorage." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said, "By adding Seward, you're changing the fiscal note." REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said, "I guess we are, because what we're doing is adding the number of beds." He added that it's conditional. REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE indicated that because much of this does not take place until FY 08, he doesn't expect it to change the accuracy of the first part of the fiscal note, although it may change the second part of the fiscal note. Number 1823 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked if there were any other questions or comments about [Conceptual Amendment 2, as amended]. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ withdrew his objection. Number 1815 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the motion to adopt Conceptual Amendment 2 [as amended] was approved without objection. Number 1783 JIM LECRONE, Business Agent, Public Safety Employees Association (PSEA), a retired correctional officer, said it is rewarding to hear the committee discussing the fiscal responsibility of a public prison, and he offered some comments. He related his belief that incarcerating criminals is a function of government, not the private sector. He noted that in June 2002, Thomas Kane [Assistant Director for Information, Policy and Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons] told U.S. Senator Don Nickles that the federal bureau had concerns regarding [the ability of] private prisons to confine and manage medium- and high-security inmates. MR. LECRONE said there are many statistics regarding the higher number of assaults in private prisons, both on staff and on inmates. He noted that there are fiscal repercussions associated with a higher assault rate. Generally, he said, when there is an assault in a prison, local law enforcement [becomes involved] and charges are filed. The cost of investigation, prosecution, court fees, appointed attorney fees, appeals, and future incarceration fall to the State of Alaska, whether it's a private or public prison; therefore, he said, it behooves everyone to keep assault rates down. "Obviously," he added, "experience proves we do it better in public facilities." MR. LECRONE noted that a six-year study done in California showed that the public [prison] sector had 11 escapes, while the private [prison] sector had 200 escapes, although it managed 40,000 less inmates. Mr. Lecrone said he hopes the committee will keep the security factors in mind while looking at the cost factors. He said he appreciates [HB 134]. Number 1600 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH informed the committee that Lieutenant Dan Lowden, from the Department of Public Safety, was available to answer questions. Number 1510 DEE HUBBARD testified that she is a resident of Sterling, Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula. She said she supports HB 134, which she said is fiscally competitive. She emphasized that she is comfortable knowing that [the proposal] would be under state control. She told the committee that she has many concerns about privatization [of prisons]. Primarily, she noted, there are many statutes governing the operation of public prisons, but none governing the operation of private prisons. MS. HUBBARD told Representative Seaton that she likes [Conceptual Amendment 2]. She said the Kenai Peninsula is always looking eagerly for any kind of economic development, and [HB 134] is a great idea. MS. HUBBARD said the pre-trial beds are desperately needed now. She added that the transportation costs are enormous, and [HB 134] will cut down on those costs. She concluded by saying that other testifiers have done a better job of expressing her feelings. Number 1400 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated his appreciation of Ms. Hubbard traveling to Juneau to testify. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH noted that the committee had also received emails from Ms. Hubbard, and he complimented her on her job as a citizen who keeps her eye on the legislature. Number 1361 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he appreciates the analysis that Ms. Hubbard provided the committee. Number 1333 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that HB 134 was heard and held.