Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/19/2004 08:05 AM JUD

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,                                                               
Department  of Health  and Social  Services (DHSS),  told members                                                               
that  SB 340  proposes changes  to the  juvenile delinquency  and                                                               
alcohol statutes  to align with  the federal requirements  of the                                                               
Juvenile  Justice and  Delinquency Prevention  Act (JJDPA),  with                                                               
respect to holding juveniles in  adult jails and juvenile justice                                                               
facilities.  SB 340  prohibits the  state from  putting juveniles                                                               
who have  not committed a  crime in  either an adult  or juvenile                                                               
correctional facility  solely for  their own  correction. Current                                                               
Alaska statute allows  DHSS to place a juvenile in  an adult jail                                                               
when  a juvenile  is  severely intoxicated  or  mentally ill  and                                                               
might  pose a  danger  to self  or others.  One  concern is  that                                                               
locking up juveniles  who have not committed a crime  is not best                                                               
practice. The  second concern  is that Alaska  statute is  out of                                                               
compliance  with  federal  requirements,  which  impacts  federal                                                               
funding.  She  emphasized that  SB  340  will not  impact  DHSS's                                                               
ability  to  hold   juveniles  who  have  been   charged  with  a                                                               
delinquent   offense   while   awaiting  transportation   to   an                                                               
appropriate  juvenile facility.  DHSS  has had  a  range of  non-                                                               
secure  shelters across  the state  for well  over a  decade. The                                                               
non-secure  shelters allow  DHSS to  provide a  safe place  for a                                                               
young person  until a parent  or guardian is  located. Non-secure                                                               
shelters  are  located  in   Fairbanks,  Juneau,  Kenai,  Kodiak,                                                               
Ketchikan, Valdez  and Sitka. DHSS  is in the midst  of expanding                                                               
the  non-secure shelter  array  to  Anchorage, Barrow,  Wrangell,                                                               
Dillingham,  Kotzebue,  Emmonak,  and  Hooper  Bay  and  recently                                                               
signed a provider agreement in the Mat-Su Valley as well.                                                                       
MS.  WARE   asserted  that  DHSS   has  been  working   in  close                                                               
partnership  with the  Alaska State  Troopers  and Department  of                                                               
Public Safety (DPS) to address  this concern. The changes made at                                                               
the  federal level  occurred this  past October.  She offered  to                                                               
answer questions.                                                                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  if   DHSS  currently  maintains  separate                                                               
facilities  across the  state for  juveniles who  are intoxicated                                                               
and mentally ill but who have not committed any crimes.                                                                         
MS.  WARE  answered that  it  does;  the  facilities are  run  by                                                               
grantees of DHSS, primarily non-profit organizations.                                                                           
SENATOR FRENCH  asked what  happens in  communities with  no such                                                               
MS. WARE  said a juvenile would  be held at an  adult jail, which                                                               
is allowed  by statute. She  noted even if  SB 340 passes  and it                                                               
becomes illegal to hold a juvenile  in an adult jail, the federal                                                               
government recognizes that states  face significant challenges in                                                               
meeting  the requirements  of the  federal  act. Therefore,  each                                                               
state is allowed a certain number of violations.                                                                                
TAPE 04-22, SIDE B                                                                                                            
SENATOR OGAN noted it is illegal  for a minor to use a controlled                                                               
substance. He expressed  concern that the state  could be opening                                                               
itself to liability if a  juvenile can't be incarcerated until he                                                               
or she sobers up and cools off.                                                                                                 
MS. WARE responded  that law enforcement could  charge a juvenile                                                               
who is  violent and acting  out with a criminal  offense, thereby                                                               
allowing DHSS to  incarcerate the juvenile in an adult  jail in a                                                               
rural  community.  SB  340  addresses  those  juveniles  who  are                                                               
intoxicated and  in what  is referred  to as  "protective custody                                                               
hold." They have  not acted out to the point  they should be held                                                               
in jail.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH  questioned whether a minor  in possession offense                                                               
is a "jailable" offense.                                                                                                        
MS.  WARE  told  members  that  minor  in  possession  and  minor                                                               
consuming offenses are considered to  be status offenses that are                                                               
handled in district court as opposed to superior court.                                                                         
SENATOR  FRENCH acknowledged  they  are infractions  with a  $300                                                               
MS. WARE said, in terms of the  federal JJPD Act, that would be a                                                               
violation  because  the  state   would  be  incarcerating  status                                                               
offenders as opposed to delinquents.                                                                                            
SENATOR FRENCH maintained that SB  340 will help the state retain                                                               
$700,000  of federal  money but  the fiscal  note shows  no state                                                               
money will be  appropriated to increase the  number of non-secure                                                               
facilities in the state.                                                                                                        
MS. WARE indicated  that DHSS has requested general  funds in the                                                               
FY 04 budget for non-secure shelters.                                                                                           
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if SB  340 will  cause DHSS  to change  its                                                               
current procedures.                                                                                                             
MS. WARE answered:                                                                                                              
     Mr. Chairman,  yes and  no in  that we've  already been                                                                    
     working on this for quite  some time. What this will do                                                                    
     is cement the  fact that our state statutes  will be in                                                                    
     alignment with federal statutes  but we've been working                                                                    
     hard on this, frankly, for  many, many years. What this                                                                    
     does  force us  to do  is be  much more  pro-active and                                                                    
     focused  in terms  of  our  alignment with  essentially                                                                    
     core stakeholders  across the  state. So,  for example,                                                                    
     when  the  change  came  down,  and  I  think  this  is                                                                    
     probably  one  of the  best  examples,  in Bethel,  for                                                                    
     fiscal  year   2003,  25   percent  of   our  detention                                                                    
     admissions in  our own  juvenile facility  were related                                                                    
     to protective custody holds. Once  we realized that the                                                                    
     feds were  going to change  the requirement,  we worked                                                                    
     hard  with the  Yukon-Kuskokwim Health  Corporation. So                                                                    
     now, instead of law  enforcement bringing those kids to                                                                    
     our  juvenile  facility,  they go  to  a  hospital  bed                                                                    
     managed by YK, which is  both more appropriate for that                                                                    
     juvenile and  reduces our  overcrowding and  also means                                                                    
     that  he  or  she   can  be  plugged  into  appropriate                                                                    
     behavioral  health services.  They're  also managed  by                                                                    
     YK. And  we've been  doing that in  other parts  of the                                                                    
     state as  well. So Fairbanks,  at the local  level, has                                                                    
     been  working with  law enforcement  and our  staff and                                                                    
     other  service providers  and  they've  got, I  believe                                                                    
     this just happened last  week, six pre-treatment de-tox                                                                    
     beds that FNA Behavioral  Health Services is putting on                                                                    
     line to  address some of  the concerns related  to loss                                                                    
     of alternatives in a juvenile justice setting.                                                                             
CHAIR SEEKINS affirmed  that DHSS already has a  process in place                                                               
that it  is following where possible  and SB 340 will  cause DHSS                                                               
to follow that procedure in every case.                                                                                         
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if DHSS  ever uses  private homes  as safe                                                               
houses in smaller communities.                                                                                                  
MS. WARE said  she believes law enforcement  gets pretty creative                                                               
but  DHSS  does  not  have specific  safe  houses  in  identified                                                               
communities. She added  she does not want to  overstate the level                                                               
of the  problem. DHSS has  adult jails  or lock-ups in  about 138                                                               
communities.  The violation  sites  number  23. Therefore,  while                                                               
DHSS faces  a challenge  every day  in terms  of the  sites where                                                               
alternatives  must be  provided,  the number  of  those sites  is                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  if  a  violation  site  has  no  facility                                                               
available for juveniles.                                                                                                        
MS. WARE  replied, "A violation site  is a site where  yes, there                                                               
may not be  alternatives, but for a range of  reasons, either due                                                               
to turnover at  the VPSO level, a whole bunch  of factors, we end                                                               
up fairly regularly putting a kid in an adult jail."                                                                            
CHAIR SEEKINS  announced that we  would hold SB 340  in committee                                                               
and adjourned the meeting at 9:00 a.m.                                                                                          

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