Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/11/1996 08:20 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 2 "An Act allowing courts to require certain offenders as 7 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 8 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. 9 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 10 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 11 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.