Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/11/1996 08:20 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HOUSE BILL NO.  2                                                            
                                                                               
       "An Act allowing courts to require certain offenders as                 
                                                                               
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       a special  condition of  probation to  complete a  boot                 
       camp program provided by the Department of Corrections;                 
       making  prisoners who  complete the  boot camp  program                 
       eligible  for  discretionary   parole;  providing   for                 
       incarceration of  certain nonviolent offenders  in boot                 
       camps  operated  by   the  Department  of  Corrections;                 
       allowing the Department of Corrections to contract with                 
       a person for an alternative boot camp program; creating                 
       the  Boot  Camp  Advisory Board  in  the  Department of                 
       Corrections; and providing for an effective date."                      
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS, sponsor of HB 2,  spoke in support                 
  of the legislation.  He noted that the legislation was first                 
  introduced in 1993.   He  asserted that HB  2 addresses  the                 
  needs of  the Department of  Corrections with regard  to the                 
  proposed program.    He maintained  that placing  nonviolent                 
  felony  or misdemeanor offenders in a  prison setting is not                 
  the best way  to accomplish rehabilitation of  the offender.                 
  He maintained that  providing an alternative to  prison time                 
  and  an  opportunity  to  learn  discipline  and  acceptable                 
  behavior  will  offer  these  offenders  a chance  to  avoid                 
  further encounters with the law.                                             
                                                                               
  Representative Willis noted that HB  2 would offer boot camp                 
  as   an  alternative   program   for  convicted   felons  or                 
  misdemeanant under the age of 26.  Individuals  convicted of                 
  crimes  such   as  homicide,  assault,   kidnapping,  sexual                 
  offenses, and offenses  involving the use of a deadly weapon                 
  would not be eligible for  this option.  The emphasis is  on                 
  nonviolent offenders.    The Department  of Corrections  has                 
  requested that the maximum age limit be raised to 30 years.                  
                                                                               
  Representative  Willis  noted that  at  least 24  states, in                 
  addition  to  the  federal  government,  operate  boot  camp                 
  programs.    Each  state  offers  the program  to  different                 
  groups.  For example, in 1993 Virginia's program was limited                 
  to nonviolent male felony offenders 24 years of age or under                 
  and did not allow felons  convicted of murder, manslaughter,                 
  kidnapping,  sexual assault,  etc.,  to participate  in  the                 
  program.    Massachusetts' program,  in  1993, was  for male                 
  offenders under the age  of 40.  In recent  testimony before                 
  committees in the  United States Congress, Kathleen  Hawk of                 
  the Department of Justice mentioned that  as of 30 September                 
  1994, over one  thousand federal inmates had  graduated from                 
  the federal Intensive Confinement Center/boot camp program.                  
                                                                               
  Representative  Willis emphasized  that  the Department  has                 
  revised its 1995 fiscal note to  zero due to the possibility                 
  of federal funds for both  construction and operating costs.                 
  Savings from  this legislation could  be seen within  two to                 
  three years.  The program  involves intensive staff time and                 
  follow-up through parole and probation.   He maintained that                 
                                                                               
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  the expenditures are  well spent if  offenders learn how  to                 
  structure  their  lives  and  recidivism  is  reduced.    He                 
  stressed that  a  boot camp  program  has the  potential  of                 
  providing many long-term benefits.                                           
                                                                               
  Representative Brown noted  that the Committee  was provided                 
  with a proposed committee substitute, Work Draft 9-LS0016\M,                 
  dated  4/10/96  (copy  on  file).    She  observed that  the                 
  proposed   committee  substitute   would  provide   for  the                 
  operation of a boot camp from July 1, 1996 to June 30, 1997.                 
  Representative Willis observed  that the time frame  may not                 
  be sufficient.                                                               
                                                                               
  Representative  Brown  pointed  out  that fiscal  funds  are                 
  anticipated in the federal fiscal year 1996.                                 
                                                                               
  BILL PARKER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF  CORRECTIONS                 
  anticipated  that  the  program  would  be  implemented with                 
  federal funds.  He  did not know if the time  frame could be                 
  met.                                                                         
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Hanley  observed  that no  general  fund  match is                 
  requested.     Mr.   Parker  stated   that  the   Department                 
  anticipates that the  campus and  buildings provided by  the                 
  State will be counted as the match.                                          
                                                                               
  Representative  Mulder  noted  that the  proposed  committee                 
  substitute is drafted so that if the federal government does                 
  require a cash  match that the State  would not participate.                 
  He  noted  that  the Department  received  a  $50.0 thousand                 
  dollar federal grant to study the proposal.                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder referred to page 2, lines 18 - 21.  He                 
  noted  that  regulations must  include  provisions requiring                 
  prisoners  to   reimburse  the Department  for the  costs of                 
  participating  in  the  boot camp  program.   Representative                 
  Willis clarified that  the program is voluntary.  Mr. Parker                 
  noted  that  prisoners  who  complete  the program  will  be                 
  eligible for parole earlier.                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  questioned if  there  would be  many                 
  volunteers.    Mr.  Parker  noted  that 50  prisoners  could                 
  participate.   He  acknowledged the  percentage  of indigent                 
  prisoners.   The cost of the  program would be approximately                 
  $85 dollars a  day.  He  observed that regulations have  not                 
  been drafted.  He agreed that  most inmates could not afford                 
  the  program.   Representative  Kelly  stressed that  family                 
  support  may  be  possible.   He  spoke  in  support of  the                 
  program.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Hanley  questioned  if  other  state's charge  for                 
  participation in boot camp programs.                                         
                                                                               
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  Representative  Brown  noted  that  inmates  are   currently                 
  charged  for  medical  services  in  halfway  houses.    She                 
  suggested that "must" be changed to "may" and the Department                 
  be allowed to setup a system for reimbursement.                              
                                                                               
  Representative  Mulder  agreed that  the  program  should be                 
  financially  supported.    He  noted  that families  may  be                 
  willing to pay some cost.  He stressed that the total amount                 
  would too much  for must families.   He spoke in  support of                 
  the requirement  that a  reasonable portion  of the  cost be                 
  reimbursed.   Representative Kelly emphasized that  the cost                 
  should be  reasonable so  that inmates  are not  discouraged                 
  from participation.                                                          
                                                                               
  Representative Martin stated that the  program would be more                 
  costly    than    incarceration    in   other    facilities.                 
  Representative Willis stressed that savings will be realized                 
  through the transfer from hard to soft beds.  He  added that                 
  sentences will be shorted as a result of the program.                        
                                                                               
  Representative  Therriault  stressed that  the  program will                 
  help to rehabilitate inmates.  Representative  Mulder stated                 
  that the program will be a cost avoidance measure if inmates                 
  are rehabilitated and do not reenter  the system.  He agreed                 
  that the per day cost per inmate will be greater.                            
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder MOVED to adopt  Work Draft 9-LS0016\M,                 
  dated 4/10/96.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                 
                                                                               
  Representative Brown MOVED to delete "must" and insert "may"                 
  on page  2, line 19;  and insert a  "portion of" on  page 2,                 
  line  20.     She   explained  that   the  amendment   would                 
  acknowledged that it  is not reasonable  for inmates to  pay                 
  the entire  cost of the  program, but  that some  reasonable                 
  charge is appropriate.                                                       
                                                                               
  Representative  Therriault suggested  that  the change  from                 
  "must" to "may" was unnecessary.  Representative Brown MOVED                 
  to AMEND Amendment 1  by deleting the change from  "must" to                 
  "may".  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                         
                                                                               
  Representative Martin observed that a portion  can vary.  He                 
  expressed concern  with the  requirement to  charge for  the                 
  program.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Representative Brown noted that the Department "shall" adopt                 
  regulations.    She  stressed  the   time  needed  to  adopt                 
  regulations.  She  asked if  regulations  are  necessary for                 
  implementation  of a  fee  schedule.   She  stated that  the                 
  adoption of regulations could  take at least 6 to  8 months.                 
  She  noted  that  the Department  can  operate  if there  is                 
                                                                               
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  statutory authority.  Co-Chair Hanley added that regulations                 
  would not be needed if payments are not required.                            
                                                                               
  Representative Brown stressed that the most expedient way to                 
  allow the Department to  implement a pilot program would  be                 
  to state that  the commissioner "may" adopt  regulations and                 
  that regulations "may" include charges.                                      
                                                                               
  Representative Brown WITHDREW her motion to amend HB 2.                      
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder suggested that the completion dated be                 
  changed  to September 30,  1997 to match  the federal fiscal                 
  year on page 2, line 14 and page 3, line 17.                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder MOVED  to delete  "June 30, 1997"  and                 
  insert  "September 30, 1997" on page 2,  line 14 and page 3,                 
  line 17.  Representative Brown spoke  in support of a longer                 
  extension.   She added that the legislation could be subject                 
  to  the availability of federal  funds.  She maintained that                 
  as long as  the federal government is  providing funding the                 
  project  should  be  fully  developed.   She  observed  that                 
  renovations at  the Wildwood Correctional Facility will cost                 
  $2.0  million dollars.   She  suggested that the  program be                 
  tied to the availability of federal  dollars and no limit or                 
  a five year limit be added.                                                  
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-112, Side 1)                                            
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Hanley  noted  that a  conceptional  amendment was                 
  needed.  He stressed that the intent is that the  program be                 
  implemented  only  if federal  funds  are available  for the                 
  entire program, including capital and operational costs.                     
                                                                               
  Representative  Willis   noted  that   the  Department   has                 
  requested that the age limit be changed from 26 to 30 years.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Representative Kohring spoke in  support of the legislation.                 
  He  noted  that permanent  fund  dividend payments  could be                 
  attached to pay for part of  an inmates participation in the                 
  program.    He  noted  that   previous  programs  have  been                 
  successful in  Alaska.   He agreed  that federal  funding is                 
  critical.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Brown emphasized  that the legislation should                 
  not preclude future  opportunities.  She suggested  that the                 
  legislature   should  be   able   to   consider  making   an                 
  appropriation.                                                               
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley spoke against  the appropriation of  general                 
  funds.   Representative Brown  spoke in support of  a 3 to 5                 
  year  sunset.    She added  that  the  legislation could  be                 
                                                                               
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  subject  to  federal  funds  or   a  specific  general  fund                 
  appropriation.   She observed  that prisoner  payments could                 
  provide  the  state match.    She  spoke in  support  of the                 
  program.  She maintained that one year is too short.                         
                                                                               
  Mr. Parker stated  that the Department now  anticipates that                 
  the federal government will provide  capital and operational                 
  costs.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder asked if the boot camp must be located                 
  in  a  state  correctional  facility.    He  emphasized  the                 
  increased cost of a correctional facility.   Mr. Parker felt                 
  that the facility would have to  be part of the correctional                 
  system.  He noted that the  Department intends to locate the                 
  camp  in buildings  outside  of the  fence  at the  Wildwood                 
  Correctional  Facility.     He  did  not  know   if  federal                 
  guidelines require the camps to  be a correctional facility.                 
  Representative  Brown pointed  out  that halfway  houses are                 
  correctional facilities  under contract.  The  bill provides                 
  for contract of operations on page 2, subsection (f).                        
                                                                               
  HB 2 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                        

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