Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/15/2015 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY
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|Confirmation Hearing: Commission on Judicial Conduct|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HB 15-CREDITS FOR TIME SERVED/GOOD TIME 2:09:14 PM VICE CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of HB 15. "An Act relating to credits toward a sentence of imprisonment for certain persons under electronic monitoring." He asked for a motion to adopt the Senate CS. At ease from 2:10 pm to 2:11 pm. 2:11:05 PM SENATOR COSTELLO motioned to adopt the Senate CS for CSHB 15, labeled 29-LS0102\X, as the working document. VICE CHAIR COGHILL objected for discussion purposes. 2:11:28 PM GENEVIEVE WOJTUSIK, Staff, Senator Lesil McGuire, spoke to the changes in the Senate CS for HB 15. Version X adds a new paragraph (21) to AS 12.55.155(d) on page 2, lines [17-20]. This is the content of SB 82 that the committee heard and reported out. It allows a judge to consider participation in the 24/7 sobriety program as a mitigating factor at the time of sentencing. The new paragraph states that "the defendant, as a condition of release ordered by the court, successfully completed an alcohol and sub stance abuse monitoring program established under AS 47.38.020." At the request of the Department of Law, the word "complied" was changed to "completed" to align with language that is already in statute. VICE CHAIR COGHILL withdrew his objection and version X was before the committee. 2:13:06 PM REPRESENTATIVE TAMMIE WILSON, sponsor of HB 15, stated support for the Senate CS. She explained that the legislation would allow the courts to grant a defendant credit toward a sentence for the time spent under electronic monitoring. The purpose of the bill is to encourage people to get help as soon as possible versus sitting in jail awaiting trial. Currently private vendors are offering electronic monitoring in the major cities, but she knows that the Department of Corrections would be excited to enter this realm. SENATOR COSTELLO said she appreciates the cost savings the bill represents. She asked the cost of a hard bed, the average cost of residential treatment, and the daily cost of electronic monitoring. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied the cost of a prison bed is $158 per day and the cost of electronic monitoring in Fairbanks is about $105 per week. Specialty additions such as alcohol monitoring cost more. She didn't know the cost of residential treatment. SENATOR COSTELLO asked her to discuss the opportunity for people to remain employed while they're on electronic monitoring. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON explained that this allows a person to remain in the community, with certain restrictions depending on the charge, and therefore hold down their job rather than sitting in jail. She cited an example and shared that the person said it's been easier for him to stop drinking because he knows the immediate consequence if he takes a drink. 2:17:53 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked Commissioner Taylor if DOC manages the monitoring systems. RON TAYLOR, Commissioner, Department of Corrections (DOC), answered no; DOC does not monitor the private companies that offer electronic monitoring services. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked if DOC would be part of the discussion about placing a defendant on electronic monitoring instead of sending them to jail awaiting trial. COMMISSIONER TAYLOR replied the court is making that determination. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON clarified that this is not directed by the court. She explained that when someone is charged, the court either sets bail or designates a third party to monitor the defendant 24/7. The defendant would bring the monitoring company to court and request electronic monitoring as a third party custodian. The court would question the vendor's representative just as it would any third party custodian. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked if someone who requests this type of monitoring is admitting guilt or just precluding other risk tools the court would use. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied electronic monitoring is already being done but no credit is given at sentencing for the time spent under electronic monitoring. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked what happens if there's a violation. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied the defendant would go back to jail if they violated a condition of release while on electronic monitoring. She expressed hope that DOC would eventually make use of this tool. 2:23:46 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI directed attention to page 1, line 11, and asked if the definition of "criminal offense" includes a probation or parole violation. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied this is just pretrial so a person would not be on parole or probation. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked Ms. Meade to describe how the court would see this option on a third party release. NANCY MEADE, General Counsel, Administrative Staff, Alaska Court System, explained that a defendant who has a bail condition of a third party custodian could use a professional vendor as their third-party custodian. In Anchorage, Fairbanks, Palmer, and Kenai, the defendant who has that requirement to get out of jail can bring the vendor's representative and ask the judge to issue an order approving that company as a third party custodian. The order would include conditions such using the ankle monitor and certain exclusion zones. The vendor would have the responsibility of reporting any transgression to the court. They would know that the person violated one of the conditions set by the court because the ankle monitor would send an electronic alert to the vendor's business office where the monitoring takes place. This is happening now and a person can be on electronic monitoring for a substantial amount of time awaiting trial. The intent of the sponsor is that a person who purchases a contract with a third party vendor would receive credit. MS. MEADE clarified that the court is neutral on the bill but can comply. The court does not approve or monitor third party venders; it is a private contract and a defendant pays the business between $300 and $600 per month for the service. The court approves the contract if it believes both will be able to fulfill their responsibilities. Under the bill, the defendant would inform the judge that they would seek credit for the time they paid for the electronic monitor, and that they want an order that comports with the statute so they can receive credit. At the time of sentencing the court will look at the order and deduct the time spent on electronic monitoring if the defendant didn't violate any of the conditions. SENATOR MICCICHE asked why current law specifically prohibits the court from granting credit for electronic monitoring when it allows credit for time spent in a residential treatment program. MS. MEADE explained that the residential treatment described in AS 12.55.027 is required to have the characteristics of incarceration. She recalled a case where a defendant asked to receive credit for the time served on electronic monitoring, but the court was constrained by the statute and decided that the time didn't qualify. Later the legislature codified that and added a subsection to 027 saying a person does not get credit for electronic monitoring. SENATOR MICCICHE asked if electronic monitoring has a particular range. MS. MEADE replied the range varies according to the order by the court. 2:31:43 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if taking a drink would be considered a criminal offense under the provision in Section 2 if the court order prohibited alcohol consumption. MS. MEADE answered in the affirmative. Disobeying anything in the bail order is violating a court order and that is a crime. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if a person would lose all the credit for the time spent on electronic monitoring if they violated their conditions of bail on day 364. MS. MEADE replied that would be an interpretation of the statute, but the district attorney would argue that the person is not entitled to the credit because they violated the court order, which is a criminal offense. 2:33:12 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked the sponsor's intent. BARBARA BARNES, Staff, Representative Tammie Wilson, offered her understanding that a person who violates the conditions of bail set by the court would not receive credit. She acknowledged that it may be open to interpretation and added "If you break the law, you're not going to get the credit and I believe that is the intent of the sponsor." SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI urged the committee to clarify its intent because this provision would be litigated and the court would look to these committee hearings for the legislative intent. SENATOR MICCICHE observed that both Sections 1 and 2 use the term may so the court is not required to grant credit. It would be on a case-by-case basis. MS. MEADE agreed that it does allow the court some discretion, but it would it would be unusual for a judge to deny credit for some non-statutory reason. VICE CHAIR COGHILL questioned whether it would add clarity to add "only" on page 1, line 10, following "monitoring." 2:36:16 PM DENNIS JOHNSON, Program Director, Alaska Pretrial Services (APS), Anchorage, Alaska, stated that APS administers the Alaska 24/7 Sobriety program in the third judicial district. They have two offices with testing facilities in the Anchorage area and are expanding to Palmer. APS provides pretrial electronic monitoring, which is what HB 15 and SB 82 are directly related to. He reported that APS currently has about 126 active 24/7 participants and about 162 offenders under active electronic monitor. They provide daily supervision for people who live and work from the North Slope and Barrow through Kodiak and down to Juneau. He opined that both HB 15 and SB 82 provide a cost effective way to monitor and give credit to offenders who are working toward sobriety and court compliance. Addressing an earlier question about range, he said it varies depending on the severity of the alleged offense. He believes that Alaska Pretrial is more strict that other professional vendors. He said the bill is a cost-effective tool to help people who are trying to change their behavior for the better. SENATOR MICCICHE asked if his company offers both proximity and alcohol monitoring. MR. JOHNSON answered yes; Alaska Pretrial Services uses active GPS with two way communication. He described geo-fencing on an unclassified felon who is confined to his house. If he steps outside his residence, APS receives an immediate alarm and a case officer responds and notifies law enforcement. This system was developed for community safety, victim safety, and compliance; exclusion zones can be established around a victim's residence, school or place of work and range from 10 feet to five miles. VICE CHAIR COGHILL asked the sponsor if the intent is that a person would lose all credit if they violated the conditions of bail. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON replied it would be up to the court. She added "If I was in charge I'd make them lose it all because I think that's a bigger incentive." Responding to an earlier question, she explained that "private residence" was changed to "residence" to include halfway houses. 2:46:38 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI commented that Section 2 will be litigated and then directed attention to page 2, line 12. That line talks about the court imposing restrictions on a person's freedom of movement and behavior. He asked if the court always imposes restrictions on both freedom of movement and behavior. MS. MEADE confirmed that there would be restrictions on freedom of movement if the electronic monitoring had a GPS component. She guessed that a standard bail condition of commit no crimes would be interpreted as a restriction on behavior. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI suggested the Department of Law (DOL) look and consider whether or not to replace the final "and" with "or" on page 1, line 12. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON said she didn't ask about that specifically, but Department of Law did have a lot of input. 2:48:45 PM VICE CHAIR COGHILL said his preference is for the bill to clearly say that a person would lose all credit for a violation of a bail condition. He held HB 15 in committee for further consideration.