Legislature(2019 - 2020)

2019-02-20 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2019-02-20                     House Journal                      Page 0170
HB 50                                                                                                                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 50 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                    
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to pretrial release; relating to sentencing; relating                                                     
     to treatment program credit toward service of a sentence of                                                                
     imprisonment; relating to electronic monitoring; amending Rules                                                            
     38.2 and 45(d), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure; and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Judiciary, and                                                       
Finance Committees.                                                                                                             
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             

2019-02-20                     House Journal                      Page 0171
1.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                                                          
2.  Zero, Dept. of Public Safety                                                                                                
3.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Administration                                                                                      
4.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Administration                                                                                      
5.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                         
6.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                         
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 22 follows:                                                                     
"Dear Chief Clerk:                                                                                                              
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to pretrial release, credit                                                     
toward a person's sentence for time spent in a treatment program or                                                             
electronic monitoring, and amending the Alaska Rules of Criminal                                                                
This bill repeals pretrial service provisions of SB 91 and places the                                                           
authority and discretion back in the hands of the Courts to determine                                                           
bail and release conditions. Additionally, it authorizes the                                                                    
Commissioner of Corrections to monitor and enforce pretrial                                                                     
conditions as the Department does with probation and parole services,                                                           
reenacting the third-party custodian system and electronic monitoring                                                           
systems, which were in place prior to SB 91.                                                                                    
The bill prohibits an individual from obtaining jail credit for time                                                            
spent on electronic monitoring before trial. Current law allows a                                                               
person to earn day for day credit for time spent on electronic                                                                  
monitoring while out on bail release. Only the most serious offenses                                                            
are limited to earning 360 days of credit, otherwise, there is no limit to                                                      
the amount of time a person can have credited toward their sentence.                                                            
This can result in ultimately spending little to no time in jail once a                                                         
person is convicted and sentenced. Case law has held that time spent                                                            
on electronic monitoring is not akin to time spent in jail. Matthew v.                                                          
State, 152 P.3d 469 (Alaska App. 2007). The bill will amend the law                                                             
to conform to this holding and prohibit the accrual of jail credit when a                                                       
person is on electronic monitoring while on pretrial release.                                                                   
The bill increases the efficiency of the criminal justice system by                                                             
encouraging the court system to use videoconferencing for all pretrial                                                          

2019-02-20                     House Journal                      Page 0172
hearings wherever that technology is feasible. Current practice is to                                                           
require an in-custody defendant to be physically present at all pretrial                                                        
hearings. Some of these hearings are simple scheduling hearings                                                                 
which only take a few minutes. However, it requires significant                                                                 
resources to transport a defendant from the jail to the courthouse. Each                                                        
time a prisoner is transported, there is the potential for an escape or for                                                     
contraband to be brought back into the prison facility. The increased                                                           
use of videoconferencing will decrease these risks and improve the                                                              
efficiency of the criminal justice system.                                                                                      
Finally, the bill allows a defendant's counsel to agree to continuances                                                         
of trial. This is helpful in the event that the defendant's counsel needs                                                       
more time to adequately prepare for trial. If the defendant's counsel is                                                        
unprepared it can result in the case being overturned on appeal or                                                              
having the conviction vacated through an ineffective assistance of                                                              
counsel claim. Both situations delay justice for victims and put the                                                            
State in a position of having to retry the case because the defendant                                                           
did not appreciate the importance of allowing for a continuance. The                                                            
court would still need to make an independent evaluation of whether                                                             
or not a continuance is appropriate. Continuances are a tactical matter                                                         
which the defendant's counsel should control.                                                                                   
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Michael J. Dunleavy