Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/28/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

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01:34:02 PM Start
01:35:16 PM SB54 || SB55
03:31:43 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited and Public> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited and Public> --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 28, 2017                                                                                            
                         1:34 p.m.                                                                                              
1:34:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair  MacKinnon  called  the  Senate  Finance  Committee                                                                    
meeting to order at 1:34 p.m.                                                                                                   
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Anna MacKinnon, Co-Chair                                                                                                
Senator Click Bishop, Vice-Chair                                                                                                
Senator Mike Dunleavy                                                                                                           
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
John Skidmore,  Department of  Law, Criminal  Division; Dean                                                                    
Williams,  Commissioner,  Department  of  Corrections;  Walt                                                                    
Monegan,  Commissioner,  Department  of Public  Safety;  Ron                                                                    
Flint, President,  Nugget Alaskan Outfitters,  Juneau; }Jeff                                                                    
Jesse, Legislative  Liaison, Mental Health  Trust Authority;                                                                    
Senator   John  Coghill,   Sponsor;  Nancy   Meade,  General                                                                    
Counsel, Alaska Court System.                                                                                                   
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Gregory Razo, Chairman,  Alaska Criminal Justice Commission,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Quinlan   Steiner,  Director,   Public  Defender                                                                    
Agency,  Department  of   Administration;  Nicole  Borromeo,                                                                    
Alaska Federation of Natives,  Anchorage; Butch Moore, Self,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Tara Rich,  Legal and  Policy Director,  ACLU of                                                                    
Alaska,  Anchorage;  Cara   Nelson,  Director,  Haven  House                                                                    
Juneau, Juneau.                                                                                                                 
SB 54     CRIME AND SENTENCING                                                                                                  
          SB 54 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SB 55     OMNIBUS CRIME/CORRECTIONS                                                                                             
          SB 55 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 54                                                                                                            
     "An Act  relating to crime  and criminal  law; relating                                                                    
     to violation  of condition of release;  relating to sex                                                                    
     trafficking;  relating   to  sentencing;   relating  to                                                                    
     probation; relating  to the pretrial  services program;                                                                    
     and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
SENATE BILL NO. 55                                                                                                            
     "An  Act  relating  to   criminal  law  and  procedure;                                                                    
     relating   to   controlled  substances;   relating   to                                                                    
     sentencing;  relating  to   the  period  of  probation;                                                                    
     relating   to   revocation,  termination,   suspension,                                                                    
     cancellation,  or restoration  of  a driver's  license;                                                                    
     relating  to  parole; relating  to  the  duties of  the                                                                    
     Department of Corrections and  the Department of Health                                                                    
     and  Social Services;  and providing  for an  effective                                                                    
1:35:16 PM                                                                                                                    
GREGORY RAZO, CHAIRMAN,  ALASKA CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  discussed  the initial  21                                                                    
recommendations,  which  formed  the basis  of  the  Omnibus                                                                    
Crime Bill  from the previous  legislature [SB 91].  He said                                                                    
that  the recommendations  had been  consensus and  evidence                                                                    
based. He relayed that the  recommendations that came out in                                                                    
January  2017  had  been fundamentally  different  from  the                                                                    
previous     recommendations,    which     had    led     to                                                                    
misunderstandings   and    consternation   surrounding   the                                                                    
implementation of SB  91. He explained that SB  91 would not                                                                    
be fully implemented until 2018,  because of the substantial                                                                    
part of  corrections implementation that still  needed to be                                                                    
done.  He said  that  the  changes brought  by  the bill  in                                                                    
criminal  law and  sentencing had  become the  focus of  law                                                                    
enforcement, prosecution,  and public concern. He  noted the                                                                    
substantial   increase  in   misdemeanor   crime  that   had                                                                    
coincided  with the  implementation of  the legislation.  He                                                                    
said  that  the  recommendations  that  the  commission  had                                                                    
established  in  December  2016 highlighted  both  technical                                                                    
changes and  changes based on  requests from  the Department                                                                    
of Law and  the Department of Public Safety.  He shared that                                                                    
the process had been challenging to find consensus.                                                                             
1:41:35 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Razo  explained that the  current law provided  that for                                                                    
first time C  felons, the court could  impose probation with                                                                    
a  suspended   term  of  imprisonment  of   18  months.  The                                                                    
provision  had   been  included   in  SB  91,   because  the                                                                    
commission's   research  showed   that  prison   time  could                                                                    
increase  a  low-level  offender's likelihood  to  commit  a                                                                    
crime  once released  from prison.  The commission  had most                                                                    
recently  recommended that  the presumptive  term for  first                                                                    
time C  felonies should be 0  to 90 days active  time, which                                                                    
was  a  recommendation  that stemmed  from  community  input                                                                    
during   public   testimony.   He   noted   that   community                                                                    
condemnation was one of the  proper objectives of sentencing                                                                    
under Tidal  12 of the  Alaska State Statutes. He  said that                                                                    
the recent recommendation was  anecdotally based, unlike the                                                                    
original fact  based recommendation in  SB 91, and  that the                                                                    
ultimate result of the recommendation  found in SB 54 was an                                                                    
increase  in  the  presumptive term,  allowing  a  judge  to                                                                    
impose a term of imprisonment between 0 and 1 year.                                                                             
1:43:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman  requested  clarification on  the  comment                                                                    
that the recommendation that had not been evidence based.                                                                       
Mr. Razo responded that  the commission recommendations from                                                                    
January 2017  that formed the  basis of  SB 54 had  not been                                                                    
based  on  the same  type  of  data  and research  that  had                                                                    
originally formed  the basis  for SB 91.  He added  that the                                                                    
2017 recommendations had  not had consensus, but  had been a                                                                    
majority vote.                                                                                                                  
1:44:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon  noted that the time  allotted for public                                                                    
testimony  was 2  minutes, and  that Mr.  Razo had  exceeded                                                                    
that  limit. She  asked him  to summarize  his comments  and                                                                    
submit a written copy to the committee.                                                                                         
Mr. Razo agreed to the  request. He concluded that the other                                                                    
important  change reflected  in  SB 54  was  the changes  in                                                                    
theft  in the  fourth  degree. He  stated  that current  law                                                                    
provided that an  offender may not be sentenced  to jail for                                                                    
the  first or  second  conviction for  theft  in the  fourth                                                                    
degree,  although  fines  and  restitution  could  still  be                                                                    
imposed. The  third conviction carried  a maximum term  of 5                                                                    
days in jail,  with 6 months of probation.  The provision in                                                                    
SB  91 stemmed  from the  commission's research  that prison                                                                    
time  could   have  a   criminogenic  effect   on  low-level                                                                    
offenders. The  commission had  recommended that  for third-                                                                    
time theft  4 offenders the  penalty should be  increased up                                                                    
to  10 days  in jail.  He said  that SB  54 went  beyond the                                                                    
recommendations  to provide  that the  first conviction  for                                                                    
theft in  the fourth degree may  be punishable up to  5 days                                                                    
suspended,   with  6   months  of   probation;  the   second                                                                    
conviction may be  punishable by 5 days active  time, with 6                                                                    
months  of  probation;  the  provision   for  a  third  time                                                                    
offender was  the same as  the commission  recommendation of                                                                    
10 days. He  asked that the legislature clarify  in the bill                                                                    
language  regarding  probation   terms  for  sex  offenders.                                                                    
Presently, SB  54 would  mandate a 15  year minimum  term of                                                                    
probation and current law stated  that a maximum term was 15                                                                    
years of probation  for sex offenders. He  stressed that the                                                                    
evidence that  supported SB  54 was  different in  kind that                                                                    
the evidence that  supported SB 91, and that  the changes in                                                                    
sentencing were no of the same consensus as in SB 91.                                                                           
1:47:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  remarked that the changes  currently in SB
54,  regarding  the  C  felonies and  theft  in  the  fourth                                                                    
degree, were  not supported by  evidence and that  there was                                                                    
no evidence to suggest that  the evidence based reform in SB
91 was not working.                                                                                                             
Mr.  Razo replied  that there  had not  been enough  time to                                                                    
gather data  that would underlay the  SB 91 recommendations.                                                                    
He stressed that  SB 91 had not been  fully implemented, and                                                                    
it had only been 8 months sing the bill had become law.                                                                         
1:49:09 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  SKIDMORE,   DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW,   CRIMINAL  DIVISION,                                                                    
testified that the  commission had worked to  find a balance                                                                    
in  the   criminal  justice  system.  He   stated  that  the                                                                    
commission's initial  task had been  to find ways  to reduce                                                                    
recidivism,  which  they  had  attempted  to  do  by  giving                                                                    
judge's discretion in several  areas that the commission had                                                                    
thought had been restricted by  SB 91, more than was helpful                                                                    
or appropriate to ensure public  safety. He spoke of Class C                                                                    
felonies, and  clarified that there  had been  two proposals                                                                    
presented on the matter, one limited  jail time from 0 to 90                                                                    
days, and the other was for 0  to one year. He said that the                                                                    
people who  voted against  the 90 days  were voting  for the                                                                    
one  year.  He believed  that  previous  testimony that  the                                                                    
commission  had  failed to  reach  consensus  on the  matter                                                                    
neglected to take  into consideration all of  the votes that                                                                    
occurred at  that particular commission meeting.  He relayed                                                                    
that  disagreement  lay in  the  amount  of time  should  be                                                                    
imposed for Class C felonies,  which was a policy issue that                                                                    
should be decided  by the legislature. He  believed that the                                                                    
legislature   should  dictate   to  the   courts  how   much                                                                    
discretion  should be  extended to  judges when  determining                                                                    
sentencing. He  agreed that  the current  position in  SB 54                                                                    
went beyond  the recommendations of the  commission. He said                                                                    
that the  commission had recommended  that active  jail time                                                                    
of 10  days be associated with  a third theft in  the fourth                                                                    
degree  conviction. He  said that  SB 54  went beyond  that,                                                                    
which was not  what DPS or LAW had  initially recommended to                                                                    
the commission,  nor had they  advocated for such  action at                                                                    
any time.  He stressed  that the  underlying theory  for the                                                                    
commission had been that putting  people in jail triggered a                                                                    
criminogenic effect  on people;  if you  put people  in jail                                                                    
they would be  more likely to commit a crime  in the future.                                                                    
He  believed that  this  theory was  valuable  to take  into                                                                    
consideration. He  added that once  a person  was committing                                                                    
their  second or  third offense,  the notion  that the  jail                                                                    
time was the  criminogenic effect no longer  carried as much                                                                    
weight  because  the  person   continued  to  commit  crimes                                                                    
regardless of whether they were placed in jail or not.                                                                          
Mr. Skidmore spoke  to the issue of  sex offender probation.                                                                    
He relayed that the recommendations  had been to return to a                                                                    
provision  in law  prior to  1991, which  required mandatory                                                                    
probation for sex  offenders and set out  the timeframes. He                                                                    
furthered  that  the  timeframes  had  been  evidence  based                                                                    
gathered by  DOC and multiple  studies. He related  that the                                                                    
evidence  had indicated  that having  a person  complete sex                                                                    
offender treatment,  and having  them on probation  for that                                                                    
period  of  time,  reduced recidivism.  He  noted  that  the                                                                    
mandatory  probation  under  SB  91 was  subject  to  earned                                                                    
compliance credits, which meant  that probation could be cut                                                                    
in half.  He warned that adopting  provisions different than                                                                    
what  was currently  in  SB 54  would  give individuals  the                                                                    
potential  to  reduce  their  period   of  probation  by  50                                                                    
1:54:25 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Micciche  queried the  types  of  crimes that  were                                                                    
categorized under Class C felony.                                                                                               
Mr. Skidmore responded  that Class C felony  offenses were a                                                                    
broad  category of  crime. He  listed assault  in the  third                                                                    
degree, burglary in the second  degree, vehicle theft, theft                                                                    
between $1000 and $25,000,  criminal mischief, possession of                                                                    
child  pornography, terroristic  threatening  in the  second                                                                    
degree,  stalking  in  the  first  degree,  riot,  hindering                                                                    
prosecution,  promoting contraband,  harming  a police  dog,                                                                    
tampering  with evidence,  distribution of  narcotics, as  a                                                                    
sampling  of the  types of  crimes that  fell under  Class C                                                                    
felony.  He  believed  that  there  were  over  60  Class  C                                                                    
1:55:50 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator von  Imhof understood that the  commission supported                                                                    
the  changes in  SB  54 in  regard to  theft  in the  fourth                                                                    
degree and mandatory probation for sex offenders.                                                                               
Mr.  Skidmore responded  that DPS  and  LAW had  recommended                                                                    
that the commission  consider up to a year  of possible jail                                                                    
time  for  Class   C  felonies,  which  had   not  been  the                                                                    
commission's ultimate recommendation.  He furthered that DPS                                                                    
and LAW had  recommended that the third  conviction of theft                                                                    
in  the fourth  degree should  result  in jail  time, SB  54                                                                    
proposed the  possibility of jail  on the  second conviction                                                                    
as well  as the third.  He reiterated that the  policy issue                                                                    
would  be left  up to  the legislature.  He stated  that the                                                                    
provision of  mandatory probation for sex  offences found in                                                                    
SB 54   were the  same as  what  had previously been  in law                                                                    
under AS 12.55.125, subsection O.                                                                                               
1:57:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman  asked whether  the  position  of LAW  had                                                                    
altered since the passage of SB 91.                                                                                             
Mr. Skidmore  asked for clarification on  which position Co-                                                                    
Chair Hoffman was probing.                                                                                                      
1:59:38 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman wondered  whether the department's position                                                                    
the issues brought up by  Senator von Imhof had already been                                                                    
established prior to the debate on SB 91.                                                                                       
Mr.  Skidmore  replied  that  due  to  the  breadth  of  the                                                                    
legislation  the  department  had   not  realized  that  the                                                                    
probation  of sex  offenders was  being  repealed until  the                                                                    
debate had neared  its end. He revealed  that the department                                                                    
had though the  revision had been an  oversight. He stressed                                                                    
that the  department's position never shifted.  He said that                                                                    
the  department  had concerns  about  Class  C felonies  and                                                                    
theft in  the fourth  degree, but  had remained  silent with                                                                    
their recommendation  in order to give  the legislation time                                                                    
to  work. He  stated  that  the last  9  months had  offered                                                                    
enough  time   for  the  department  to   observe  that  new                                                                    
recommendations needed to be made.                                                                                              
2:00:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Dunleavy  requested  clarification  of  the  earned                                                                    
compliance credits with regard to sex offender probation.                                                                       
Mr. Skidmore  responded that earned compliance  credits were                                                                    
a section  of the  bill that  stated that  for every  30 day                                                                    
period  that a  probationer  completed  probation without  a                                                                    
violation, the period  of probation would be  reduced by the                                                                    
same amount of time.                                                                                                            
2:01:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator   Dunleavy  stated   that  the   term  "sex   crime"                                                                    
encompassed a  variety of crimes. He  wondered whether there                                                                    
was  a  breakdown  of  the  recidivism  rates  for  specific                                                                    
categories  of   sex  crimes,  and   whether  there   was  a                                                                    
differentiation  between different  types of  sex offenders,                                                                    
in regard to the earned compliance credits.                                                                                     
Mr.  Skidmore responded  that there  was no  distinction for                                                                    
the earned  compliance credits, they  applied to  all felony                                                                    
2:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Dunleavy asked whether  there were any circumstances                                                                    
for felony offenses  that might be an exception  to the rule                                                                    
for compliance credit.                                                                                                          
Mr. Skidmore said that there  was no distinction between any                                                                    
felony or the  type of offense; when a  person was sentenced                                                                    
to probation  and did 30  days without a violation  then the                                                                    
probation was reduced by 50 percent.                                                                                            
2:03:13 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Dunleavy asked  whether the  bill would  remove the                                                                    
compliance credits.                                                                                                             
Mr.  Skidmore  replied  no.  He   added  that  even  if  the                                                                    
legislature   decided  to   re-impose  the   same  mandatory                                                                    
probation for sex offenses that  existed prior to SB 91, the                                                                    
probation  would actually  be  a lower  period of  probation                                                                    
when the earned compliance credits were considered.                                                                             
2:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Dunleavy directed committee  attention to the Alaska                                                                    
Justice  Statistical Analysis  Center  Fact  Sheet (copy  on                                                                    
file), which showed  that there had been an  uptick in crime                                                                    
since 2013.  He wondered  whether something had  happened in                                                                    
2013 that had led to a rise in crime.                                                                                           
Mr.  Skidmore  stated that  since  2013  the department  had                                                                    
observed an uptick in crime.  He lamented that there were no                                                                    
simple  answers  when  it  came  to  crime  rates  and  that                                                                    
multiple factors  could influence  them. He thought  that an                                                                    
educated guess about  the cause of the steady  rise in crime                                                                    
was  the combination  of the  opioid crisis  and the  fiscal                                                                    
crisis that  had led  to the reduction  of resources  in law                                                                    
enforcement  and  in  prosecution. He  noted  that  criminal                                                                    
justice  reform  could also  be  a  factor because  whenever                                                                    
significant  changes were  made in  the effort  for criminal                                                                    
justice reform, it took time for the system to adjust.                                                                          
2:05:42 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  MacKinnon   hoped  that  Mr.  Skidmore   would  be                                                                    
available   to   the   committee  for   further   discussion                                                                    
throughout the day.                                                                                                             
Mr. Skidmore  said he was  available for the entire  day and                                                                    
would make himself available at the committee's request.                                                                        
2:07:02 PM                                                                                                                    
QUINLAN   STEINER,   DIRECTOR,   PUBLIC   DEFENDER   AGENCY,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT    OF   ADMINISTRATION    (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  that he  was  a member  of  the Criminal  Justice                                                                    
Commission,  and had  participated  throughout the  process,                                                                    
both with  the original  recommendations and  the subsequent                                                                    
set of recommendations  that formed the foundation  of SB 54                                                                    
and  SB 55.  He spoke  to  the changes  found in  SB 54.  He                                                                    
believed  that the  biggest change  was the  Class C  felony                                                                    
policy change. He said that  the foundation for the original                                                                    
recommendation  weighed the  impacts  of jail  and a  felony                                                                    
conviction,  both had  negative consequences  that inhibited                                                                    
rehabilitation.  He said  that even  24 hours  of jail  time                                                                    
could  cause someone's  recidivism to  increase. He  relayed                                                                    
that  the  felony conviction  in  itself  was a  barrier  to                                                                    
employment  and  could  have other  impacts  that  prevented                                                                    
rehabilitation  and impacted  recidivism. He  explained that                                                                    
the original policy was meant  to make sure that someone who                                                                    
was a first time felon,  without an aggravated case, did not                                                                    
get both  the impact of  jail and  the impact of  the felony                                                                    
consequence. He shared that one  of the things that had been                                                                    
debated  was the  balance of  the  scheme all  the way  from                                                                    
Class  A  misdemeanors  to  felonies.  He  stated  that  the                                                                    
discussion  came about,  though  not  supported by  evidence                                                                    
that there was  any negative impact of the  policy, but that                                                                    
some  jail  time  could  be  merited  under  the  theory  of                                                                    
community condemnation.  He relayed that the  commission had                                                                    
voted for  90 days, which had  since been raised to  1 year.                                                                    
He revealed that  1 year of jail amounted to  a roll back of                                                                    
the original  policy, which he  believed would result  in an                                                                    
increase  in felony  convictions and  jail time  without any                                                                    
associated increase  in rehabilitation.  He shared  that the                                                                    
original policy had  the advantage of being  able to arrange                                                                    
probation. He said  that the result of 1 year  would be more                                                                    
decision  to plea  in order  to avoid  open sentencing  on a                                                                    
year, which  could result  in jail  time as  part of  a plea                                                                    
agreement  without  necessarily increasing  any  opportunity                                                                    
for rehabilitation. He  said that the 1 year  cases would be                                                                    
more expensive  for lawyers to  process and would  limit the                                                                    
effectiveness of reducing recidivism.  He continued that the                                                                    
other  policies that  had been  departed from  in SB  54 had                                                                    
been  the Class  B misdemeanor  policy; the  original intent                                                                    
had  involved  insuring that  a  person  in their  first  or                                                                    
second time out was not sent  to jail for even short periods                                                                    
of time,  which would  interfere with  their rehabilitation.                                                                    
He pointed out  to the committee that short  amounts of jail                                                                    
time could cause someone to  lose their job, their home, and                                                                    
the  foundation  by  which  they  would  build  upon  future                                                                    
rehabilitation. He stated that he  vot4ed for some change in                                                                    
the effort to even out the  scheme, and he believed that the                                                                    
departures   would  impact   the  ultimate   goal  for   the                                                                    
commission. He  reiterated that the recommendation  in SB 54                                                                    
were not  data driven. He  expounded that the  policy change                                                                    
for violating  conditions of release in  the new legislation                                                                    
was  based on  concerns that  individuals could  be arrested                                                                    
for violating  conditions of release,  and then  be released                                                                    
from  jail  before the  bail  hearing.  He shared  that  the                                                                    
problem   had    been   potentially   solved    through   an                                                                    
administrative change  to how bail  was provided for  by the                                                                    
courts, but the fix had  not yet been implemented across the                                                                    
state,   which   resulted   in  a   change   that   had   an                                                                    
administrative base, but no  further criminal justice policy                                                                    
goal. He  thought that  it was important  to weigh  how much                                                                    
jail time  was being imposed against  the potential achieved                                                                    
2:12:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  asked how much  time the  commission spent                                                                    
discussing the 0 to 90 versus the 0 to 1 year.                                                                                  
Mr.  Steiner  thought  that   the  recommendation  had  been                                                                    
vigorously  debated.   He  said   that  there  had   been  a                                                                    
disagreement  about jail  time for  the first  time Class  C                                                                    
felony; what  should the  judge be  allowed to  impose under                                                                    
their  own  discretion. He  stated  that  the community  had                                                                    
responded  that  some jail  time  should  be available  that                                                                    
signaled a condemnation for the  conduct. He personally felt                                                                    
that  a timeframe  limited to  90 days  would not  upset the                                                                    
recommendations  to  a  degree  that would  result  in  plea                                                                    
negotiations in  order to avoid open  sentencing. He thought                                                                    
that in 1 year there would  be plea agreements that were the                                                                    
result  of  the coercive  force  of  jail looming  overhead,                                                                    
rather  than addressing  the  merits  of rehabilitation.  He                                                                    
said  that  in  the  past when  wider  discretion  had  been                                                                    
provided for  judges in sentencing,  in spite of  very clear                                                                    
direction  from the  legislature that  the sentences  should                                                                    
not  increase, the  sentences  increased.  He asserted  that                                                                    
when bail  policies changed people  spent more time  in jail                                                                    
simply  because they  were poor  and could  not afford  even                                                                    
small  amounts of  bail, and  he  revealed that  it was  the                                                                    
judge's discretion that was driving the problem.                                                                                
2:16:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair   Hoffman  wondered   whether   there  was   debate                                                                    
regarding  increasing the  maximum from  90 to  120, or  180                                                                    
Mr. Steiner  replied that  there had been  a proposal  for 1                                                                    
year, which  had been amended to  90 days. He said  that the                                                                    
commission then  debated whether or  not to vote for  the 90                                                                    
day limit.  He relayed  that the vote  had been  split, with                                                                    
the  majority  voting  for 90  days,  the  minority  opposed                                                                    
because they felt  a 1 year was more  appropriate. He stated                                                                    
that  there  had  been  no   discussion  on  a  position  of                                                                    
compromise.  He understood  that 120  days had  been debated                                                                    
during  discussions on  SB 91,  but that  it had  been voted                                                                    
2:17:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman queried the details  of the vote to forward                                                                    
the 90 day recommendation to the legislature.                                                                                   
Mr.  Steiner  recalled that  the  vote  had been  close,  he                                                                    
believed that the majority had won by 1 vote.                                                                                   
2:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
DEAN  WILLIAMS,  COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT  OF  CORRECTIONS,                                                                    
acknowledged  the  difficulty  of the  process  of  criminal                                                                    
justice  reform. He  relayed that  he  had not  been on  the                                                                    
commission  before the  passage of  SB 91.  He spoke  to the                                                                    
balance  necessary  to  find the  appropriate  deterrent  to                                                                    
criminal  activity, while  honoring  the original  intention                                                                    
behind criminal  justice reform.  He shared that  the system                                                                    
had  been expected  over  the past  several  years to  avoid                                                                    
prison growth,  in fact,  a 15 to  25 percent  reduction had                                                                    
been  requested. He  lamented that  the department's  budget                                                                    
had  been   set  with  the   expectation  that   the  prison                                                                    
population would decrease. He stated  that 40 percent of the                                                                    
prison   population   fell   under  the   Class   C   felony                                                                    
classification. He  explained that  it had  been challenging                                                                    
for his department to craft a  fiscal note for SB 54 because                                                                    
SB  91 had  not been  in place  for long  enough to  provide                                                                    
meaningful  data.  He  relayed   that  whatever  course  the                                                                    
legislature chose, appropriations would  be made to make the                                                                    
prison system  safer and  more viable.  He hoped  that funds                                                                    
could  be   invested  in   opioid  prevention   efforts.  He                                                                    
concluded that  the pre-trial part  of SB 91 would  begin in                                                                    
January  2018,   and  should  have  a   positive  impact  in                                                                    
contracting  the pre-trial  population.  He  related that  a                                                                    
focus for  the future should be  on sufficient opportunities                                                                    
to provide treatment intervention.                                                                                              
2:23:56 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  queried the anticipated saving  from the 0                                                                    
to  90   day  change   over  the   construction  of   a  new                                                                    
correctional facility.                                                                                                          
Commissioner  Williams  replied  that one  result  from  the                                                                    
decrease in  the prison  population was  the closure  of the                                                                    
Palmer Correctional  Center. He  said that the  decision had                                                                    
been a difficult  one, but had saved  the department several                                                                    
million dollars, and had allowed  for staff to be reinvested                                                                    
in  other neglected  areas. He  lamented that  he could  not                                                                    
speak to specifics, but that  the department had experienced                                                                    
a slight contraction  in the population and  a down-cline in                                                                    
certain sectors  of the population. He  reiterated that some                                                                    
of the pieces of SB 91 had not yet been implemented.                                                                            
2:25:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  wondered whether  the 90 day  provision in                                                                    
SB 54 would result in an  increase in the population and the                                                                    
need to reopen the Palmer facility.                                                                                             
Commissioner Williams said that it was a possibility.                                                                           
2:26:15 PM                                                                                                                    
WALT  MONEGAN, COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT  OF PUBLIC  SAFETY,                                                                    
expressed support for SB 91. He  shared that he had spent 34                                                                    
years with the Anchorage Police  Department, and that in the                                                                    
time he  had spent on  patrol he  had started to  arrest the                                                                    
second generation  of families  who found themselves  in the                                                                    
system. He  believed that the  systems necessary  to support                                                                    
SB 91  had not yet been  fully realized, and that  with more                                                                    
time  and  some  minor  adjustments  the  legislation  could                                                                    
produce the results  that he hoped for. He  relayed that the                                                                    
public was upset about the  state of criminal justice reform                                                                    
in the state.  He noted that there were key  pieces of SB 91                                                                    
that had not  yet been fully implemented. He  added that the                                                                    
budget crisis  had resulted  in a decline  on the  number of                                                                    
prosecutors  and troopers,  and that  the state  was in  the                                                                    
middle of an opioid epidemic.  He said that the he supported                                                                    
the proposed  changes in  SB 54. He  believed that  the bill                                                                    
would allow judges to examine  each case based on merits and                                                                    
facts. He agreed that judges  to have the discretion to make                                                                    
determinations in sentencing.                                                                                                   
2:30:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman  remarked  that the  recidivism  rate  was                                                                    
critical and  key to  the legislation.  He relayed  that the                                                                    
general measurement  for recidivism  was 3  year increments.                                                                    
He stated  that the  Alaska Criminal Justice  Commission was                                                                    
going  to  be  examining  those  rates  when  analyzing  the                                                                    
effects of  SB 91.  He stated  that by  changing SB  91, the                                                                    
recidivism rate  would be unmeasurable.  He noted  that plea                                                                    
deals  took place  in  cases that  stretched  out over  long                                                                    
periods  of time.  He wondered  whether the  zero to  1 year                                                                    
sentencing would result in more plea deals.                                                                                     
Commissioner  Monegan replied  that it  could. He  clarified                                                                    
that law enforcement was not  part of the plea deal process.                                                                    
He reiterated that the discretion  should lie with the judge                                                                    
overseeing the case.                                                                                                            
2:33:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator von Imhof  asked why there was  so much disagreement                                                                    
about zero  to 90 days  versus zero  to 1 year.  She queried                                                                    
that public response  to SB 91 over the past  year in regard                                                                    
to sentencing.                                                                                                                  
Commissioner Monegan  replied that  the current law  was not                                                                    
working.  He  stressed  that  the  system  lacked  treatment                                                                    
facilities, and until  that time data needed  to be gathered                                                                    
and examined  as the process toward  criminal justice reform                                                                    
2:36:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator von Imhof understood that  under current law Class C                                                                    
felonies received  zero to 90  days active  imprisonment for                                                                    
first time offenders.                                                                                                           
Commissioner Monegan  replied that zero  to 90 days  was not                                                                    
currently in  statute. He explained  that the  first offense                                                                    
earned probation  only on a  Class C felony. He  shared that                                                                    
the debated  surrounded putting  something that  allowed for                                                                    
more  than  simply writing  a  citation  and then  releasing                                                                    
2:38:00 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman argued that the  commission had been tasked                                                                    
with solving the problem if  sentencing on Class C felonies,                                                                    
and   that  had   been  the   intent  of   the  commission's                                                                    
2:39:14 PM                                                                                                                    
RON  FLINT, PRESIDENT,  NUGGET  ALASKAN OUTFITTERS,  JUNEAU,                                                                    
testified  in support  of SB  54.  He expressed  frustration                                                                    
that felony limit  for theft was set at $1000.  He felt that                                                                    
there had been  an increase in small time  theft. He offered                                                                    
several personal anecdotes about theft in his store.                                                                            
2:43:23 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  JESSE,   LEGISLATIVE  LIAISON,  MENTAL   HEALTH  TRUST                                                                    
AUTHORITY,  testified that  his work  on the  commission had                                                                    
been to craft policy that  was driven by data and scientific                                                                    
fact. He stressed  that if criminal justice  reform was only                                                                    
about minimizing  criminality, and therefore  minimizing the                                                                    
amount of general  funds that were spent on  crime, then the                                                                    
original criminal justice recommendations  in SB 91 would be                                                                    
the most  effective vehicle.  He said  that it  was apparent                                                                    
that  this  was  not  the   only  goal.  He  encouraged  the                                                                    
committee  to craft  legislation that  adhered a  closely to                                                                    
the commission's recommendations as possible.                                                                                   
2:46:14 PM                                                                                                                    
NICOLE  BORROMEO, ALASKA  FEDERATION  OF NATIVES,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via  teleconference), spoke  in  opposition to  SB 54.  She                                                                    
stated that  the federation did  not believe  that replacing                                                                    
SB 91 was warranted at the  present time. She hoped that the                                                                    
legislature  could wait  until  the  32 legislative  session                                                                    
before  substantive changes  were made  to SB  91. She  said                                                                    
that if substantive changes were  going to be made this year                                                                    
she  hoped they  would closely  follow the  criminal justice                                                                    
commission's recommendations.                                                                                                   
2:47:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman   asked  whether  the  Ms.   Borromeo  had                                                                    
discussed   the  federation's   views   with  Julie   Kitka,                                                                    
President, Alaska Federation of Natives.                                                                                        
Ms. Borromeo  replied in the  affirmative. She  relayed that                                                                    
Ms. Kitka supported the federation's position on SB 54.                                                                         
2:49:28 PM                                                                                                                    
BUTCH MOORE, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), believed                                                                    
that penalties  for Class B  felonies should be added  to SB
54. He cited Page 53, section 89 of SB 91:                                                                                      
     Sec. 89. AS 12.55.125(d) is amended to read:                                                                             
      (d)  Except as  provided  in (i)  of  this section,  a                                                                    
     defendant  convicted  of  a   class  B  felony  may  be                                                                    
     sentenced  to a  definite term  of imprisonment  of not                                                                    
     more  than  10  years,  and shall  be  sentenced  to  a                                                                    
     definite term within  the following presumptive ranges,                                                                    
     subject  to adjustment  as provided  in AS  12.55.155 -                                                                    
      (1) if  the offense is  a first felony  conviction and                                                                    
     does  not involve  circumstances  described  in (2)  of                                                                    
     this subsection, zero [ONE] to two [THREE] years;                                                                          
     a defendant sentenced under this  paragraph may, if the                                                                    
     court  finds it  appropriate,  be  granted a  suspended                                                                    
     imposition of sentence under AS 12.55.085                                                                                  
Mr.  Moore   explained  that   Class  B   felonies  included                                                                    
burglary,  arson  in  excess  of  $25,000,  bribery,  sexual                                                                    
assault  2,  and  theft  over  $25,000.  He  requested  that                                                                    
minimum jail time be added to  Class B felonies. He spoke to                                                                    
previous  testimony he  had given  in another  committee. He                                                                    
believed that  one of the  biggest problems with  the prison                                                                    
system  in  Alaska was  the  issue  of substance  abuse  and                                                                    
mental health.  He felt  that the  parts of  SB 91  that had                                                                    
been implemented  had been focused on  the financial aspects                                                                    
of the criminal  justice system. He did not  believe that SB
91  would  protect the  public  from  violent offenders.  He                                                                    
requested that the  committee review sections 89  and 122 of                                                                    
SB 91. He continued to speak to SB 91.                                                                                          
2:54:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon explained  that the SB 91  referred to in                                                                    
the meeting was from the 29th legislative session.                                                                              
2:55:31 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Micciche asked whether  Mr. Moore supported the five                                                                    
items in SB  54 that increased sentencing  for various types                                                                    
of crimes.                                                                                                                      
Mr.  Moore  replied  in  the   affirmative.  He  hoped  that                                                                    
consideration could  be given for increasing  sentencing for                                                                    
Class B felonies.                                                                                                               
2:57:24 PM                                                                                                                    
TARA  RICH,  LEGAL  AND POLICY  DIRECTOR,  ACLU  OF  ALASKA,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),  testified in  support  of                                                                    
evidence based  and research driven  policies. She  spoke to                                                                    
three provision that  the group hoped would  be changed: the                                                                    
violations of  conditions of release, the  Class C felonies,                                                                    
and low-level  theft in  the 4th degree.  She said  that the                                                                    
violations of  conditions of release  were geared  toward an                                                                    
administrative  end and  were  costly  and unnecessary.  She                                                                    
stated  that  increasing  the  active  term  of  presumptive                                                                    
imprisonment  for  Class C  felonies  to  up  to 1  year  of                                                                    
possible imprisonment  was premature.  She asserted  that it                                                                    
was too  early to make  the decision  and that there  was no                                                                    
evidence that  creating an active term  of imprisonment made                                                                    
spending sense. She said that  there was evidence to suggest                                                                    
that for first time  offenders, active terms of imprisonment                                                                    
had a  criminogenic effect. She  urged the committee  not to                                                                    
base   decisions  on   anecdotal,  third-hand   accounts  of                                                                    
perceptions  on the  increase  of theft  in  the 4th  degree                                                                    
offences.    She   reminded    the   committee    that   the                                                                    
recommendations that resulted in SB  54 were not data driven                                                                    
or evidence bases  and requested that the  committee give SB
91 more time to provide results.                                                                                                
Co-Chair MacKinnon CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
3:02:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  MacKinnon  queried  additional comments  from  the                                                                    
sponsor of the legislation.                                                                                                     
3:02:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  JOHN COGHILL,  SPONSOR, hoped  that the  debated on                                                                    
the bill  would result in  a balanced piece  of legislation.                                                                    
He felt that the changes in  SB 91 that were reflected in SB
54  had  caused  confusion  for  the  public.  He  expressed                                                                    
appreciation for future discussions,  and offered to provide                                                                    
additional backup and details.                                                                                                  
3:04:38 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman  stated  that  people  had  supported  the                                                                    
legislation  because the  need for  criminal justice  reform                                                                    
had been evident.  He spoke of the financial  strain felt by                                                                    
the state because  of the cost to construct  the Goose Creek                                                                    
Correctional Facility.  He commended the work  that had been                                                                    
done on SB  91. He believed that the bill  had been intended                                                                    
to  reduce recidivism  and curb  spending.  He stressed  his                                                                    
expectation that cost saving measures  would be realized. He                                                                    
expressed  concern that  SB 54  did not  follow some  of the                                                                    
recommendations of  the Alaska Criminal  Justice Commission.                                                                    
He  asked whether  redirected dollars  could be  in jeopardy                                                                    
under the current bill version.                                                                                                 
Senator  Coghill  replied  that   the  commission  had  been                                                                    
composed  of people  who practiced  within  the system,  and                                                                    
those who had been affected by  the system. He said that the                                                                    
goal of the  legislation had been to  reduce crime, increase                                                                    
public  safety, and  decrease the  recidivism rate.  He said                                                                    
that  putting money  from  incarcerated  prisoner care  into                                                                    
rehabilitation  programs  was  the   goal.  He  stated  that                                                                    
accommodation  to  help  offenders  reenter  communities  as                                                                    
productive members of  society was lacking in  the state. He                                                                    
did not believe  that jail and accountability  were the same                                                                    
thing. He  lamented that  the process  would continue  to be                                                                    
challenging.   He  stressed   that   the  system   contained                                                                    
criminals who were incarcerated  for mainly drug and alcohol                                                                    
related  crimes,  and  without  incentives  those  offenders                                                                    
would be accountable for their  rehabilitation. He said that                                                                    
SB  54 went  further  than the  commission had  recommended,                                                                    
than he  personally wanted,  but that it  had been  based on                                                                    
public and  police testimony, as  well as the  Department of                                                                    
Law testimony in Senate Judiciary Committee.                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon REOPENED public testimony.                                                                                   
3:12:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CARA  NELSON,  DIRECTOR,  HAVEN HOUSE  JUNEAU,  JUNEAU  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified that  over 65  million Americans                                                                    
had  criminal records,  which meant  that public  policy and                                                                    
perception  of  criminal  justice   needed  to  evolve.  She                                                                    
thought  that meaningful  change would  take time,  and that                                                                    
there was no way to gauge  whether SB 91 was working because                                                                    
it had  only been law  for 8  months. She stressed  the need                                                                    
for  data  driven,  evidence based  recommendations  as  the                                                                    
foundation  for criminal  justice legislation.  She believed                                                                    
that addiction  should be aggressively addressed  in policy.                                                                    
She hoped  that policy decisions  would not be  solely based                                                                    
on  public  condemnation,  but on  evidence.  She  expressed                                                                    
appreciation  for  the   conversation  surrounding  criminal                                                                    
justice reform.                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair MacKinnon CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
3:16:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Micciche  said  that he  supported  the  philosophy                                                                    
behind  SB 91.  He stated  that the  commission had  updated                                                                    
some  of  their 2015  recommendations  in  2017, which  were                                                                    
reflected in  SB 54.  He said  that most of  SB 54  had been                                                                    
crafted  in observance  to  the  adjustments the  commission                                                                    
made in 2017 of its 2015 recommendations.                                                                                       
Senator Coghill  explained that most  of the items in  SB 54                                                                    
had been  considered by the  commission, which  had modified                                                                    
in  the  Senate Judiciary  Committee,  namely  the level  of                                                                    
incarceration  issues  surrounding   Class  C  felonies  and                                                                    
fourth degree theft.                                                                                                            
3:19:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Micciche felt that the  discussion was pertinent. He                                                                    
felt that  the commission  had adjusted  its recommendations                                                                    
out of the  recognition that it had gone too  far in certain                                                                    
areas, and  that communities  were being  severely impacted.                                                                    
He  wondered  how the  process  worked  for identifying  the                                                                    
difference between possession of  child pornography versus a                                                                    
lower   level  Class   C   felony,   when  considering   for                                                                    
Mr.   Skidmore  replied   that   the  department   certainly                                                                    
differentiated  between the  two  felonies when  considering                                                                    
length of sentencing.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair  MacKinnon  requested  a written  response  to  the                                                                    
question from the department.                                                                                                   
3:21:26 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  MacKinnon requested  clarification concerning  the                                                                    
bail schedule.                                                                                                                  
3:22:19 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY   MEADE,  GENERAL   COUNSEL,   ALASKA  COURT   SYSTEM,                                                                    
explained  that state  had set  bail schedules  for decades,                                                                    
only  for  misdemeanors and  never  for  felonies. The  bail                                                                    
schedule  provided that  when a  person was  arrested for  a                                                                    
misdemeanor  they could  be taken  by law  enforcement to  a                                                                    
correctional  facility,  and  then  released  under  certain                                                                    
circumstances   and   with    certain   conditions   without                                                                    
immediately  seeing a  judge. The  person would  be given  a                                                                    
piece of  paper asking  them to return  some time  later for                                                                    
arraignment. She  said that  evidence had  come to  light in                                                                    
March 2016  that had coincided  with the SB 91  reforms, and                                                                    
the evidence  brought forth by the  commission, showing that                                                                    
the pre-trail population had grown  81 percent over the past                                                                    
10 years. The  changes to the pre-trial  provisions, and how                                                                    
bail  would be  set  under  SB 91,  had  not  yet come  into                                                                    
effect. She  stated that,  recognizing what  the legislature                                                                    
had intended with  SB 91, the presiding  judges got together                                                                    
and created a  statewide bail schedule. Prior  to that there                                                                    
had  been   different  bail  schedules  for   the  different                                                                    
judicial districts in the state,  with variations within and                                                                    
among  them. The  statewide bail  schedule  was intended  to                                                                    
enhance  consistency and  to  allow for  more  people to  be                                                                    
released upon arrest than was  previously possible. This was                                                                    
to address the  fact that the pre-trial  population had been                                                                    
growing because people could not  make the bail that was set                                                                    
by a  judicial officer. She  clarified that felons  were not                                                                    
released  right  away  under   the  bail  schedule,  and  no                                                                    
domestic  violence   or  stalking  related   offenders  were                                                                    
released on their  own recognizance. She said  that the bail                                                                    
schedule  said  that in  any  particular  case an  arresting                                                                    
officer  could call  the on  call judge  to set  a different                                                                    
bail  if necessary.  She noted  that  in nearly  all of  the                                                                    
instances  the judge  would defer  to the  expertise of  the                                                                    
arresting  officer. She  admitted that  there had  been some                                                                    
dissatisfaction with some of the  things that were listed as                                                                    
a  release under  the bail  schedule. Presiding  judges were                                                                    
currently  revising  the  bail  schedule,  which  should  be                                                                    
release in a few weeks.                                                                                                         
3:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon  remarked that  there had  been confusion                                                                    
surrounding the new bail schedule.                                                                                              
3:27:34 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman  requested   information  related  to  the                                                                    
percentage plea bargains of Class C felonies in the year.                                                                       
3:28:12 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Skidmore  asked whether Co-Chair Hoffman  wanted to know                                                                    
how many cases  resulted in a plea bargain,  or the sentence                                                                    
that resulted from the plea bargain.                                                                                            
3:29:06 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman clarified  that he wanted to  know how many                                                                    
cases by  year, over the last  ten years, had resulted  in a                                                                    
person being sent to prison under a plea bargain deal.                                                                          
Mr. Skidmore  replied that  such data  was not  collected by                                                                    
the department. He said he  could not tell the committee how                                                                    
many people  ended up with sentences  as a result of  a plea                                                                    
bargain.  He offered  that 90  to  95 percent  of the  cases                                                                    
resolved  through  plea  negotiations,   but  he  could  not                                                                    
provide  the numbers  for active  jail time  versus no  jail                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hoffman   had  heard  that  the   number  of  plea                                                                    
bargaining cases  would increase  under the  zero to  1 year                                                                    
Mr. Skidmore did not believe  that the sentencing was set up                                                                    
would  control   the  number   of  plea   negotiations  that                                                                    
occurred.  He   stated  that  the   system  would   find  an                                                                    
equilibrium  no  matter  where the  legislature  decided  to                                                                    
provide the  discretion in term  of what sentences  could be                                                                    
imposed.  He relayed  that 90  to  95 percent  of the  cases                                                                    
would continue to be resolved through plea negotiations.                                                                        
3:30:14 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  interjected that  if someone was  facing a                                                                    
90 day  sentence versus  a 1 year  sentence, and  the person                                                                    
had a  job and a family,  the person would plea  bargain. He                                                                    
believed that  a person would be  less likely to push  for a                                                                    
plea bargain if they were only facing 90 days in jail.                                                                          
3:30:53 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon  requested some  facts for  the committee                                                                    
concerning what the  department did in the  normal course of                                                                    
business to address public safety,  and the consequences for                                                                    
individuals who went through the criminal division office.                                                                      
Mr. Skidmore agreed to provide the information.                                                                                 
Co-Chair MacKinnon discussed housekeeping.                                                                                      
SB  54  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
SB  55  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
3:31:43 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 3:31 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 54 2017.03.27 ACLU to S-FIN re SB 54 (Crimes and Sentencing).pdf SFIN 3/28/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 AACP Support.pdf SFIN 3/28/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Supporting Document - Property Crime Stats.pdf SFIN 3/28/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Supporting Document - Violent Crime Stats.pdf SFIN 3/28/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 54