Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/05/2004 08:24 AM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
    CSHB 334(RLS)- UNLAWFUL EXPLOITATION OF MINOR/CHILD PORN                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN  MEYER, sponsor of HB 334,  told members that                                                              
this legislation  increases the penalty for  unlawful exploitation                                                              
of  a minor,  basically the  production of  child pornography.  It                                                              
will increase the  penalty from a class B to a  class A felony for                                                              
a  second offense.  He thanked  Senator  French for  his input  on                                                              
this  bill during  its early  stages.  His initial  intent was  to                                                              
concentrate  on the  actual production  of  child pornography  and                                                              
unlawful  exploitation of  a  minor. However,  as  the bill  moved                                                              
through the  committee process,  discussions ensued about  how, if                                                              
there was  no demand  for the  product, the  product would  not be                                                              
made. He  disagrees with  that argument. He  said he  believes the                                                              
distribution  is  also a  problem  so  agreed  to also  raise  the                                                              
penalty to a class A felony.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  said his  concern  about this  issue  stems                                                              
from his  service for  three years on  the Stand Together  Against                                                              
Rape (STAR)  board, where he  saw pornographic activities  lead to                                                              
more  serious  offenses, such  as  sexual  abuse  of a  minor.  In                                                              
addition, he  is the  father of two  young daughters.  He believes                                                              
that  young  juveniles  are  very  vulnerable  and  can  often  be                                                              
enticed to  participate in  pornographic  activities for  drugs or                                                              
money and  later regret  that participation.  Once a  pornographic                                                              
video  is made,  it could  be circulated  or put  on the  Internet                                                              
forever.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
He pointed  out the presumptive sentence  for a class B  felony is                                                              
one  to four  years in  prison.  Research shows  that most  people                                                              
convicted of  that crime spend  only one  to two years  in prison.                                                              
He is concerned  that convicts can be out on the  street after one                                                              
year, reoffending the  same crime. That is the  reason he believes                                                              
a long prison  sentence for a second offense  is appropriate. This                                                              
legislation  will more  closely  align Alaska's  penalty with  the                                                              
federal penalty,  which applies  to interstate  activity.  He said                                                              
he has heard from  various groups that because Alaska's  law is so                                                              
liberal  compared to  the federal  law, it is  often difficult  to                                                              
get federal grants.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  for the definition of  "unlawful exploitation                                                              
of a minor."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  defined it  as  the making  of  a video  or                                                              
taking a  photograph. He explained  that no touching  is involved;                                                              
touching falls under sexual abuse of a minor.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if anything  in the  bill would  apply to  a                                                              
parent who takes  a photograph of his infant in the  bathtub for a                                                              
family photo album.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said nothing in the bill would apply.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he  wanted to  affirm for  the record  that is                                                              
not the intent of this legislation.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  noted that he has done some  research on the                                                              
type of people being  convicted for this crime and  found they are                                                              
not parents taking photos of their naked infants.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.   LINDA    WILSON,   Public    Defender   Agency,    commended                                                              
Representative Meyer  for the hard work he has done  on this bill.                                                              
She  noted  the current  version  of  the bill  targets  predatory                                                              
pedophiles.  The  language in  the  existing statute  of  unlawful                                                              
exploitation is  fairly broad; it  addresses anyone under  the age                                                              
of  18 and  applies to  someone who  intends to  produce a  single                                                              
photo. There  have been concerns  expressed that the  original law                                                              
makes the penalty  a class A felony, and could be  applied to just                                                              
that one offense.  It could also apply to juveniles  or two people                                                              
engaged  in consensual  sex who  took a  picture. HB  334 is  more                                                              
targeted toward the people it should apply to.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  noted no one else  wished to testify, so  he closed                                                              
public testimony.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  OGAN thanked  Ms.  Wilson  for her  input  on this  bill,                                                              
especially in light of her huge workload.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS also thanked Ms. Wilson.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OGAN  moved CSHB 334(RLS)  from committee  with individual                                                              
recommendations  and  its attached  fiscal  note.  There being  no                                                              
objection, the motion carried.                                                                                                  

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