Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/26/2015 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Public Testimony --
Moved SJR 15 Out of Committee
Moved SCR 4 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved SJR 3 Out of Committee 3/24/15
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 35(STA) Out of Committee
<Bill Held Over from 3/24/15>
Moved SB 22 Out of Committee
<Bill Held Over from 3/24/15>
        HB 93-PROBATION AND PAROLE: WORK, TRAVEL ACCOM.                                                                     
9:38:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of HB 93. [CSHB
93(STA) was before the committee.]                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                                  
Alaska, introduced HB 93 speaking to the following sponsor                                                                      
     Before you today,  I bring HB 93 which is  a piece of a                                                                    
     continuing  legislation  on   our  ongoing  reforms  of                                                                    
     Alaska's criminal  justice and corrections  systems. If                                                                    
     I  may,  I would  like  to  thank Senator  Coghill  for                                                                    
     letting me  work with him  last year  on SB 64  and for                                                                    
     allowing me to carry this bill this session.                                                                               
     As  we all  know, Alaska  has held  one of  the highest                                                                    
     rates of recidivism and the  cost of keeping a prisoner                                                                    
     in jail is  over $150 per day with  the cost continuing                                                                    
     to rise;  it is a  fact with our budget  climate today,                                                                    
     our state cannot afford to  build another prison. HB 93                                                                    
     builds  on the  bipartisan efforts  of the  legislature                                                                    
     that we have started to  move the needle on recidivism.                                                                    
     In 2011,  52 percent  of probationers did  not complete                                                                    
     their  court orders  of release  and  returned back  to                                                                    
     prison; those reforms that we've  been putting in place                                                                    
     has helped to lower that number to 45 percent in 2014.                                                                     
9:40:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE asked Representative Tilton to repeat what                                                                        
percentage of probationers did not complete their orders.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE TILTON  replied that  52 percent  in 2011  did not                                                               
complete their  court ordered conditions. She  asserted that some                                                               
of the reforms that the Legislature  has put into place from 2011                                                               
to 2014 has lowered the number to 45 percent.                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE commented that probationers are essentially doing                                                                 
their full sentences in installments.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE TILTON answered yes. She continued her overview                                                                  
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     Those who  work with probationers, such  as Partners In                                                                    
     Progress, have  identified employment  as being  one of                                                                    
     the  three  largest  components, but  employment  being                                                                    
     number  one,  the  other two  are  housing  and  social                                                                    
     services  to  help  them through  their  transitioning;                                                                    
     but, what we do know  is that few employers are willing                                                                    
     to hire  somebody with  a record, so  we have  a little                                                                    
     challenge there. As a matter  of fact, there is a study                                                                    
     with the Urban Institute  that showed just 12.5 percent                                                                    
     of employers said that they  would definitely accept an                                                                    
     applicant with a criminal record.                                                                                          
     What HB 93  does is it encourages  employment by making                                                                    
     it  clear  to probation  officers  that  when they  are                                                                    
     scheduling  the probation  appointments  that they  use                                                                    
     diligent  effort   to  schedule  around   the  person's                                                                    
     employment,  thereby  allowing  the probationer  to  be                                                                    
     successful in  their employment. This bill  also allows                                                                    
     the probationers reasonable travel  within the state to                                                                    
     work as  long as it is  not in conflict with  the terms                                                                    
     of  the  conditioners  of  their  probation;  it  is  a                                                                    
     building block and another tool in our toolbox.                                                                            
     By  keeping probationers  employed,  we  give them  the                                                                    
     opportunity  to give  back to  the system,  they reduce                                                                    
     the draw on our health  and social services budget, and                                                                    
     the cost to  our state when a  prisoner recidivates, so                                                                    
     ultimately and  potentially saving a lot  of dollars to                                                                    
     our state.                                                                                                                 
9:42:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE asked for comments from the Alaska Department of                                                                  
9:43:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CARRIE BELDEN,  Director, Probation  & Parole,  Alaska Department                                                               
of Corrections, Anchorage, Alaska,  announced that the department                                                               
supports HB 93 and noted that  the department has worked with the                                                               
sponsor on the  bill. She said the department  believes that work                                                               
is  a   very  important  to   keep  the  state's   population  of                                                               
probationers and  paroles on the  straight-and-narrow and  out of                                                               
trouble.  She stated  that the  department thinks  that work  and                                                               
employment is a very vital part of the reentry process.                                                                         
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  stated that  he liked HB  93. He  asked how                                                               
the department  deals with an  issue where parolees  in Anchorage                                                               
or Fairbanks work on the Slope or rural Alaska.                                                                                 
MS. BELDEN answered that the  department deals with the situation                                                               
Senator  Wielechowski noted  quite often.  She detailed  that the                                                               
department's probation  and parole  officers do  value employment                                                               
and the department tries to  schedule meetings when the person is                                                               
in town.  She said  the department  does telephonic  meetings and                                                               
very much tries to accommodate schedules.                                                                                       
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted  that Senator Coghill is  doing a good                                                               
bill which seeks to have  more electronic monitoring. He asked if                                                               
the department has  an issue with electronic  monitoring in rural                                                               
communities or on the Slope.                                                                                                    
9:45:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BELDEN  replied that the  department can and  does monitoring                                                               
in the areas that Senator Wielechowski noted.                                                                                   
SENATOR COGHILL asked  if the word "diligent" was used  as a term                                                               
of art  in the phrase,  "Diligent efforts to secure  and maintain                                                               
steady employment." He  asked if "active efforts"  should be used                                                               
rather  than "diligent  efforts." He  opined that  "diligent" has                                                               
more flexibility, but also could be very subjective.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TILTON replied  that Senator  Coghill's reference                                                               
in the  use of the word  "diligent" had been the  first time. She                                                               
remarked that  consideration in the  use of "diligent"  should be                                                               
discussed with the department.                                                                                                  
CHAIR STOLTZE  noted that "diligent"  must mean something  due to                                                               
its use in the sponsor statement.                                                                                               
9:47:52 AM                                                                                                                    
SHERRIE DAIGLE, Special Assistant  to Commissioner Taylor, Alaska                                                               
Department of  Corrections, commented  that the use  of "diligent                                                               
efforts"  probably  comes  from   the  diligent  efforts  of  the                                                               
probation   officers  who   are  constantly   working  with   the                                                               
probationers  to help  and assist  them in  obtaining employment.                                                               
She commented  that she did  not know  why the word  "active" was                                                               
not used. She  added that the department would review  the use of                                                               
"diligent efforts" in the bill.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  COGHILL commented  that  accountability and  flexibility                                                               
are big things to parole  officers. He reiterated that "diligent"                                                               
was very subjective compared to "active."                                                                                       
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what  happens when a probation officer                                                               
believes  that a  probationer is  "gaming the  system." He  noted                                                               
that the  bill places  requirements on  a probation  officer that                                                               
they "shall permit" each probationer travel.                                                                                    
MS. DAIGLE answered that the  probation officers are very keen to                                                               
some  of the  tactics that  some people  use. She  specified that                                                               
most  people  on  probation  are   going  to  comply  by  seeking                                                               
employment and going through the  right avenues to stay employed.                                                               
She  said probation  officers  closely  monitor individuals  that                                                               
Senator Wielechowski was referencing.                                                                                           
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  stated  that  because the  bill  does  say                                                               
"Shall permit  each probationer  to travel in  the state  to make                                                               
different efforts,"  there could  be a  situation where  a parole                                                               
officer does not allow travel  and the probationer challenges the                                                               
decision by saying  the law says he  or she can go.  He asked who                                                               
solves the situation that he previously noted.                                                                                  
9:50:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. DAIGLE answered that the  department does not know. She noted                                                               
that  the department  has  had discussion  on  the scenario  that                                                               
Senator Wielechowski described, but the department was not sure.                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how the  bill should be fixed to avoid                                                               
the situation he previously described.                                                                                          
CHAIR  STOLTZE   asked  if  the  scenario   Senator  Wielechowski                                                               
described has never been litigated.                                                                                             
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  guaranteed that  the scenario  he described                                                               
would occur if the current bill passes.                                                                                         
SENATOR  COGHILL pointed  out that  Section 2  in the  bill talks                                                               
about what  the parolee is  responsible to  do. He said  the bill                                                               
falls  into the  category of  why the  government does  that; for                                                               
example,  the parole  officer sometimes  is more  concerned about                                                               
what  they are  doing  than what  the parolee  is  doing and  the                                                               
scenario  Senator Wielechowski  described is  an assertion  where                                                               
the  parolee  must be  accommodated  if  work  is the  issue.  He                                                               
conceded that consideration must also  be given to the "gaming of                                                               
the system." He said he is open to further discussions.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  TILTON concurred  with Senator  Coghill that  the                                                               
parolee would have to be accommodated.                                                                                          
CHAIR STOLTZE stated that he  understood probation and parole. He                                                               
asked  if probation  and parole  was  entirely an  administrative                                                               
procedure within  the parole board  or does  it get kicked  up to                                                               
the courts.                                                                                                                     
MS. DAIGLE  answered that  courts are  involved in  probation and                                                               
9:53:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BELDEN  detailed that  a parolee or  the probationer  and the                                                               
probation  officer would  sit down  and have  their office  visit                                                               
where  work schedules  are discussed.  She  asserted that  parole                                                               
officers try  and be  fair about work  schedules because  they do                                                               
want them employed.  She specified that courts  and parole boards                                                               
come  into play  when there  are  violations. She  said when  the                                                               
parole officer has  tried to work with  probationers and parolees                                                               
informally, but the violations are  too big or the parole officer                                                               
is just  not getting  anywhere with  the probationer  or parolee,                                                               
the probation  officer will file  a petition to  revoke probation                                                               
or parole violation  and bring the probationer  or parolee before                                                               
the court or before the board.                                                                                                  
9:54:50 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE asked what is  the condition for the consumption of                                                               
alcohol and if the condition has been tested in the courts.                                                                     
MS.  BELDEN answered  that  no  alcohol to  excess  is a  general                                                               
condition  that  all of  the  probationer  or parolees  get.  She                                                               
detailed that the no alcohol  consumption means zero tolerance is                                                               
a  case-by-case  basis  and  that  depends  on  the  individual's                                                               
history and crime that is specific to them.                                                                                     
CHAIR STOLTZE  noted that marijuana  is supposed to  be regulated                                                               
like alcohol.  He asked if  there should be parole  conditions on                                                               
MS. BELDEN  replied that if  the parole  board or court  does not                                                               
want  a probationer  or  parolee to  ingest  marijuana, then  the                                                               
parole board or  court can put a specific condition  on that says                                                               
no marijuana consumption.                                                                                                       
CHAIR STOLTZE asked  even under the new  paradigm where marijuana                                                               
is legal.                                                                                                                       
MS. BELDEN answered  that just like alcohol is legal  for most, a                                                               
prohibition condition  can be placed  on an individual.  She said                                                               
marijuana would  be legal for most,  but a parole board  or court                                                               
can invoke a marijuana prohibition if they chose.                                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted two scenarios as follows:                                                                            
     Number  one,  a probation  officer  says  "No, I  don't                                                                    
     think  you   should  go  to   travel,"  and   then  the                                                                    
     probationer gets an attorney and  they go to court, and                                                                    
     the attorney says "Well, the  law says you shall permit                                                                    
     them." So  explain what is  likely to happen  and maybe                                                                    
     we  need  Legislative Legal  Services  to  come in  and                                                                    
     weigh in on  this, explain what is likely  to happen in                                                                    
     that situation.                                                                                                            
     The other  situation is  the person  goes and  then the                                                                    
     probation officer  wants to get  them back and  then it                                                                    
     goes before a judge as  well, maybe just talk about how                                                                    
     the courts you expect would deal with that situation.                                                                      
9:57:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   BELDEN  replied   that   the   department  shared   Senator                                                               
Wielechowski's concern. She  said by placing "shall"  in the bill                                                               
removes  the discretion  of the  parole  officer and  Legislative                                                               
Legal Services may  indicate how big the issue was.  She said the                                                               
department will try to work things  out internally to get a happy                                                               
middle,  but a  worst case  scenario could  occur where  a person                                                               
ends up before the court or parole board.                                                                                       
SENATOR  COGHILL   stated  that   the  parole  board   still  has                                                               
significant leeway by setting other  conditions. He said the bill                                                               
orders travel to  be taken into account, but  consistency is also                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TILTON specified that,  "When not in conflict with                                                               
the  other terms  and concerns  of their  probation" was  clearly                                                               
stated  in the  bill. She  noted that  previous discussions  with                                                               
Legislative Legal Services occurred  in a previous committee that                                                               
tried to address other verbiage,  but there was not another work-                                                               
around. She  said the decision was  to go ahead with  the bill as                                                               
it was  with the understanding that  the bill is not  in conflict                                                               
with conditions of probation terms.                                                                                             
9:59:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE asked if probation  should be viewed as a qualified                                                               
privilege or a right.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  TILTON answered  that probation  was a  qualified                                                               
MS.  DAIGLE  answered  that  the   department  would  agree  that                                                               
probations was a qualified privilege.                                                                                           
CHAIR  STOLTZE   stated  that   he  understood   the  reformation                                                               
provision in the  state's constitution as well.  He remarked that                                                               
he just  wanted to  make sure  in the  zeal to  try to  empty the                                                               
state's prisons that the "wrong ones" were not let out.                                                                         
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the  bill has a Judiciary Committee                                                               
CHAIR STOLTZE answered yes.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE TILTON confirmed  that the bill does  has a Senate                                                               
Judiciary Committee referral.                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE  commented that having two  committee referrals for                                                               
the bill  was advantageous in order  to address a few  issues. He                                                               
opined that  HB 93  looks more  right for  passing than  the bill                                                               
that was just dropped.                                                                                                          
10:01:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE  announced that  HB 93 would  be held  in committee                                                               
with a sincere intent to readdress  it as quickly as possible. He                                                               
added that the  committee would like to  have Commissioner Taylor                                                               
of the Department of Corrections on  the record as well. He noted                                                               
that Commission  Taylor began his  career in probation  and added                                                               
that the committee would deprive itself  of a strong voice with a                                                               
lot  of  authority  if  the  commissioner  did  not  address  the                                                               
MS.  DAIGLE   replied  that  the  department   would  make  Chair                                                               
Stoltze's request happen.                                                                                                       
10:02:26 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Stoltze adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                       
Committee hearing at 10:02 a.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB93 Explanation of Changes.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB 93
HB93 Sectional Analysis (sponsor).pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB 93
HB93 Sponsor Statement for SSTA.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB 93
HB93 Support Document - Email Kyle Brown 2-3-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB 93
SJR15 Opposition Document - Email Terry Russell 3-18-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
SJR 15
SJR15 Support Document - Email Mike Coons 3-26-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
SJR 15
SJR15 Support Document - Fax Stuart Thompson 3-25-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
SJR 15
SCR4 Support Document - Email Mike Coons 3-25-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB35 Support Document - Prepared Testimony Chuck Volanti 3-26-15.pdf SSTA 3/26/2015 9:00:00 AM
HB 35