Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/03/2004 01:38 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SB 340-DETENTION OF MINORS                                                                               
MS.  PATTY WARE,  Director of  the Division  of Juvenile  Justice                                                               
(DJJ), Department  of Health & Social  Services (DHSS), testified                                                               
that SB 340  modifies the delinquency as well as  the alcohol and                                                               
mental health statutes.  It  prohibits the placement of minors in                                                               
a jail or  secure facility - including a  secure justice facility                                                               
solely related  to protective  custody -  due to  mental illness,                                                               
disability, intoxication  or incapacitation by alcohol  or drugs.                                                               
She  emphasized  that  this  does  not  impact  the  department's                                                               
ability  to  hold  juvenile  offenders   who  are  accused  of  a                                                               
delinquent  or criminal  offense  in an  adult  jail or  juvenile                                                               
facility,  but  relates to  kids  being  held due  to  protective                                                               
custody concerns related to intoxication  or mental illness.  She                                                               
clarified,  "so we  will continue  to provide  accountability and                                                               
hold juvenile offenders accountable, and protect the community."                                                                
MS. WARE  said the bill  is a requirement  for DHSS/DJJ to  be in                                                               
compliance with  the most recent  reauthorization of  the federal                                                               
Juvenile Justice  and Delinquency  Prevention Act  (JJDPA), which                                                               
went into  effect on October  1, 2003.   As background,  she said                                                               
the division  currently receives approximately  $700,000 annually                                                               
in a  formula grant  that is  used for an  array of  services for                                                               
juveniles across the  state.  As a recipient of  those funds, the                                                               
state is required  to be in compliance with  core requirements of                                                               
that  act.    She  outlined   the  requirements,  beginning  with                                                               
adherence to deinstitutionalization of status offenders and non-                                                                
offenders.  For  purposes of this legislation,  juveniles who are                                                               
in  a  locked  facility  for   protective  custody  purposes  are                                                               
considered to be non-offenders because  they have not committed a                                                               
MS.  WARE  continued  that  there  must  also  be  separation  of                                                               
juveniles  from  adult  offenders  in  institutions.    In  those                                                               
instances where  it is  allowable to  hold juvenile  offenders in                                                               
adult  jails  or  lockup [facilities],  juveniles  must  be  held                                                               
separately  - both  in sight  and sound  - from  adult offenders.                                                               
Also, regarding  removing juveniles  from adult jails  and lockup                                                               
facilities,  there are  certain  circumstances  where states  are                                                               
allowed to  hold juvenile  offenders in adult  jails.   Given the                                                               
geographic  challenges  in  Alaska,  this  is  allowable  if  the                                                               
juvenile  is  an  accused  offender.     Lastly,  reducing  over-                                                               
representation  of minorities  in  the  juvenile justice  system;                                                               
there are  no numerical requirements  and the state  is currently                                                               
in compliance with that particular core mandate.                                                                                
MS.  WARE said  Alaska is  currently out  of compliance  with the                                                               
numerical requirements  of the  Act, and  has been  notified that                                                               
the state  will lose 40 percent  of federal funds related  to the                                                               
federal grant year  for the FFY 2004 grant award.   SB 340 allows                                                               
for seeking reinstatement  of 20 percent of that  loss of federal                                                               
funding.   From the  federal policy  perspective, in  addition to                                                               
Alaska's violation  rates being  too high,  Alaska has  not shown                                                               
that it's in  the best interest of kids to  not hold juveniles in                                                               
a locked setting  when they haven't committed a  crime.  However,                                                               
she emphasized that it is in  the best interest of kids and said,                                                               
"We should  not be putting a  juvenile in an adult  or a juvenile                                                               
jail when they have not committed a delinquent offense."                                                                        
MS. WARE  said there  are alternatives for  young people  who are                                                               
severely incapacitated.   The state has a fairly  robust array of                                                               
non-secure  shelters.   These are  alternatives provided  by non-                                                               
profit agencies.   Through the  federal grant, money  is provided                                                               
to eight different agencies that  in turn provide services to ten                                                               
different communities  in the state.   Those  existing non-secure                                                               
shelter  communities  are  located in  Fairbanks,  Juneau,  Kenai                                                               
(serving Kenai,  Seward, and  Homer), Kodiak,  Ketchikan, Valdez,                                                               
Sitka, Barrow,  and Wrangell.   She  said work  is being  done to                                                               
expand  the  array of  non-secure  shelters.   An  agreement  has                                                               
recently  been  signed  to  provide   for  a  non-secure  shelter                                                               
alternative in the  Mat-Su Borough.  Also, work is  being done to                                                               
provide  shelter  services  in:    Anchorage,  Barrow,  Wrangell,                                                               
Dillingham, Emmonak, Hooper Bay, and Kotzebue.                                                                                  
MS.  WARE  said  the  expansion of  non-secure  shelters  is  one                                                               
alternative  for  this  population,  and  communities  with  high                                                               
violation rates are  being targeted; it is  a resource allocation                                                               
decision based  on data.   She told  members that there  are many                                                               
stakeholders  both in  the state  and the  non-profit sector  who                                                               
have stepped  up to the  plate.   She mentioned the  Bethel Youth                                                               
Facility as  an example.  In  FY 03, 25 percent  of the detention                                                               
admissions were Title 47  admissions, involving either protective                                                               
custody alcohol or mental health.   Because Bethel Youth Facility                                                               
has worked  closely with the  Yukon Kuskokwim  Health Corporation                                                               
(YKHC),  when  a Title  47  juvenile  is  brought in,  he/she  is                                                               
brought  to  a hospital  bed  that  is  managed  by YKHC.    This                                                               
situation  is  both  helpful  and   a  more  appropriate  use  of                                                               
resources  as  it  helps  to  reduce  over-crowding  at  a  youth                                                               
facility  and   is  more  appropriate  from   the  standpoint  of                                                               
treatment for that young person's  needs.  Based on an evaluation                                                               
and assessment,  a young person can  be referred to a  wide array                                                               
of behavioral  health interventions that  YKHC can provide.   Ms.                                                               
Ware concluded  by saying the  division works closely  with state                                                               
and  local  law enforcement,  the  troopers  and DPS.    Training                                                               
materials and information  will need to continue  to be developed                                                               
so  that troopers  are  clear  on what  can  and  cannot be  done                                                               
regarding this change in statute.                                                                                               
MR.  AL STOREY,  Lieutenant, Division  of Alaska  State Troopers,                                                               
Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),  added that  DPS has  talked                                                               
repeatedly  with  Ms. Ware  about  this  topic and  supports  her                                                               
position.  He mentioned that there  is a firm commitment from DPS                                                               
to  provide  training and  training  materials  so that  troopers                                                               
understand  limitations.   DPS  is also  working  with the  local                                                               
police   department,   furthering   an   understanding   of   the                                                               
requirements  for  compliance.    He  said  for  the  most  part,                                                               
business is already conducted as  required.  There have been some                                                               
violations, as  articulated by Ms.  Ware, and he doesn't  know if                                                               
those violations were done by  the local police department or the                                                               
troopers, but  DPS and  DJJ are  working towards  resolving those                                                               
issues to properly  manage juvenile Title 47 people and  to be in                                                               
compliance with the federal requirements that already exist.                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked what his  specific assignment or responsibility                                                               
LIEUTENANT STOREY replied  that he works on  the director's staff                                                               
for the state troopers and was the legislative liaison.                                                                         
CHAIR  DYSON   asked  if  Lieutenant  Storey   has  had  personal                                                               
experience working  with young  people who  would be  affected by                                                               
this action.                                                                                                                    
LIEUTENANT STOREY said he hasn't  worked in the uniformed section                                                               
for several  years; the bulk of  his career has been  in the drug                                                               
and alcohol portion.  The last  uniformed patrol he worked was in                                                               
the Palmer  area, and he  did have some intoxicated  juveniles to                                                               
deal with  and also some  mental health  situations.  He  said he                                                               
has discussed this issue with  Captain [John] Glick, Commander of                                                               
the C  Detachment (covering  most of  western rural  Alaska), who                                                               
has  assured him  that the  state  strives to  comply with  these                                                               
federal  requirements.    He  said DPS  works  closely  with  OCS                                                               
[Office  of  Children's  Services]   and  DJJ  to  ensure  proper                                                               
management of  the juvenile processes.   There are a  fair number                                                               
of  intoxicated  juveniles  to  deal with  in  the  Bethel  area,                                                               
certainly  in  Kotzebue, Dillingham,  as  well  as mental  health                                                               
issues in those areas.                                                                                                          
SENATOR LYDA GREEN  asked if essentially this  bill would fulfill                                                               
federal requirement, to comport with re-authorization.                                                                          
CHAIR DYSON commented,  "And [it] brings our  law into conformity                                                               
with our practice.  Is that right?"                                                                                             
MS. WARE said this was correct.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  GREEN  commented  that  this did  not  provide  for  new                                                               
facilities or hospital beds.                                                                                                    
MS. WARE confirmed this was also correct.                                                                                       
CHAIR DYSON  said, as an  aside, he was responsible  for starting                                                               
an audit  about a  year ago  "on the kingdom  over which  you now                                                               
preside" and said  he would like to have a  conversation with Ms.                                                               
Ware  at her  convenience -  perhaps  during the  middle of  this                                                               
month   -  about   the  problems,   audit   responses,  and   the                                                               
department's response.   CHAIR  DYSON asked for  the wish  of the                                                               
SENATOR  GREEN moved  to  report  SB 340  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and [attached] fiscal notes.                                                                         
CHAIR DYSON asked if there was  any objection.  There being none,                                                               
it was so ordered.                                                                                                              

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