Legislature(2015 - 2016)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/12/2016 01:30 PM FINANCE
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CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 231(FIN) "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Parole; and providing for an effective date." 3:12:07 PM ESTHER MIELKE, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BOB LYNN, testified that the Board of Parole currently served in Alaska as the authority over parole setting. She said that it was currently set in statute to be terminated on June 30, 2016; HB 231 originally extended that date to June 30, 2022, but the most current version of the bill extends it to June 30, 2020. She relayed that the board was audited in 2015. The audit included and examination of the board's performance, in light of the 11 sunset criteria points provided within Alaska statute. She continued that the Division of Legislative Audit had found the board to be in good standing, but provided 4 recommendations to improve operations: 1. The executive director should improve procedures to ensure required documentation for parole hearings is accurate and consistently included in parole files. 2. The executive director in coordination with DOC management should implement documentation standards to ensure all offender and victim notifications are made in accordance with statutory requirements. 3. The board should ensure proposed regulations address all statutory requirements related to its duties. 4. DOC's Administrative Services Division director should take steps to ensure ACOMS complies with state information technology security standards and national best practices. Ms. Mielke shared that the board agreed with the recommendations. She related that HB 231 would fulfill the constitutional requirement that the state establish a parole system that kept Alaskans safe. She noted that the fiscal note would cover the boards operating costs and had already been included in the Operating Budget. 3:14:28 PM KRIS CURTIS, LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR, ALASKA DIVISION OF LEGISLATIVE AUDIT, explained that the division had concluded the board conducted its business in a professional and efficient manner, and recommended a 6 year extension. She said that an 8 year extension had not been recommended because of the current uncertainties in the field of corrections. She furthered that the division felt that that the new risk assessment tool that the department had just implemented required legislative oversight earlier than in 8 years. She mentioned the 4 recommendations made by the division, and noted that they were administrative and had not impacted the recommendation for extension. She noted that the recommendations could be found on Page 9 of the audit (copy on file). She reiterated the recommendations. She echoed that the board and the DOC concurred with all of the division's recommendations. Co-Chair MacKinnon OPENED public testimony. Co-Chair MacKinnon CLOSED public testimony. 3:18:46 PM JEFF EDWARDS, DIRECTOR, PAROLE BOARD, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), introduced himself. 3:18:59 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon opined that the board was costing the state $1 million in General Fund dollars. She queried the number of employees on the Parole Board. Mr. Edwards replied that there were 6 full-time employees of the board, as well as 5 governor appointed sitting members who were considered part-time employees. 3:19:59 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon asserted that the board would need to defend its $1 million dollars. Mr. Edwards believed that the services that the board provided would be vastly expanded through the possibility of SB 91 because criminal justice commissions, on a global level, had been expanded and their duties increased. He noted that prison populations were continuing to grow. He contended that his was the only agency that could release individuals, who posed low risk, early. He felt that the paroling authority provided a pathway to reintegration and re-entry for low-risk prisoners into society, which was an efficient use of state dollars. He relayed that housing low-risk prisoners in jails was expensive and ineffective. He believed that the board would be at the forefront of saving hard-bed costs for the DOC. 3:22:37 PM Vice-Chair Micciche queried a breakdown of the $852,000 in personal services reflected on the fiscal note. 3:22:55 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon referred to Page 1 of the audit: The board is funded by the general fund. Expenditures are primarily for personal services, travel, and office rental costs. Budgeted expenditures for FY 15 were $896,700. Co-Chair MacKinnon noted that there had been a staff vacancy and wondered how long the position remained vacant. Mr. Edwards replied that the position was vacant for a period of time. He added that during the position's vacancy there had been an expansion of the Probation Accountability and Certain Enforcement (PACE) program, which had provided the board with an additional staff position. He said that the vacant position was filled once the board completed the institution of the new program, which had been legislatively mandated through SB 64 [SB 64 was passed during 2013-2014] 3:23:57 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon wondered whether the position had remained vacant for all of FY 15. Mr. Edwards agreed to provide that information. Co-Chair MacKinnon understood that the board was dovetailing in with the PACE program, which had resulted in an additional position. Mr. Edwards relied that one position control number (PCN) had been designated to the parole board to support the PACE program. 3:24:42 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon asked whether Mr. Edwards managed 6 individuals, while someone else managed the PACE program. Mr. Edwards replied that the DOC supervised the individuals on the actual program, the board's role was to identify who was acceptable for the program and to track violations. He added that the PACE position was responsible for analyzing data and providing data on behalf of the departments to the effectiveness of the program. 3:25:25 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon requested a written document detailing the personal services and travel lines of the fiscal note. CSHB 231(FIN) was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration.