Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/19/2000 02:00 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 4(FIN)                                                                                                   
"An Act relating to victims' rights; relating to                                                                                
establishing an office of victims' rights; relating to                                                                          
compensation of victims of violent crimes; relating to                                                                          
eligibility for a permanent fund dividend for persons                                                                           
convicted of and incarcerated for certain offenses;                                                                             
relating to notice of appropriations concerning                                                                                 
victims' rights; and amending Rule 16, Alaska Rules of                                                                          
Criminal Procedure, Rule 9, Alaska Delinquency Rules,                                                                           
and Rule 501, Alaska Rules of Evidence; and providing                                                                           
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
Co-Chair Therriault provided members with a proposed                                                                            
committee substitute, work draft 1-LS0029\S, dated 4/19/00                                                                      
(copy on file).                                                                                                                 
BILL STOLZ. STAFF, SENATOR HALFORD spoke in support of the                                                                      
legislation on behalf of the sponsor. He noted that the                                                                         
primary purpose of the legislation was to fill the mandate                                                                      
of the victim's right constitutional amendment that was                                                                         
enacted in 1994. The legislation would create an Office of                                                                      
Victim's Rights, which would have an advocate with powers to                                                                    
help facilitate the constitutional rights of victims. The                                                                       
legislation creates a funding mechanism by increasing the                                                                       
pool of incarcerated persons that would be ineligible for                                                                       
permanent fund dividends. The Office was placed in the                                                                          
legislative branch in order to avoid conflicts with other                                                                       
agencies. Victims for Justice support the legislation.                                                                          
MIKE TIBBLES, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT provided                                                                         
information on the proposed committee substitute. He noted                                                                      
that there were two changes in the proposed committee                                                                           
substitute. The first change addresses the concern of                                                                           
increasing the size of government.                                                                                              
The victims' advocate shall appoint a person to serve                                                                           
as acting victims' advocate in the absence of the                                                                               
victims' advocate. The victims' advocate shall also                                                                             
appoint assistants and clerical personnel necessary to                                                                          
carry out the provisions of this chapter. Subject to AS                                                                         
36.30.020 and subject to the approval of the Alaska                                                                             
Legislative Council, the victims' advocate shall, to                                                                            
the maximum extent practicable, conduct the duties and                                                                          
work of the office by entering into personal services                                                                           
and other contracts the victims' advocate finds                                                                                 
necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.                                                                          
Co-Chair Therriault observed that there are portions of the                                                                     
work that could not be contracted out with a private non-                                                                       
profit organization. He clarified that it is not the intent                                                                     
that the entire portion be contracted.                                                                                          
Representative Phillips observed that she had not seen the                                                                      
issue before the Legislative Council. Mr. Tibbles explained                                                                     
that contracting is under the competitive process set up by                                                                     
for the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council would                                                                      
be requested to review the contracts. Representative                                                                            
Phillips tried to clarify that the Legislative Council would                                                                    
not be taking the job of victims' rights under its umbrella                                                                     
and that the Council would only be responsible for letting                                                                      
out the contract.                                                                                                               
Mr. Tibbles noted that the effective date was changed to                                                                        
July 1, 2002. This would allow receipts to be collected                                                                         
before the Office is created.                                                                                                   
Vice Chair Bunde MOVED to ADOPT work draft 1-LS0029\S, dated                                                                    
4/19/00. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                           
Co-Chair Therriault noted that updated fiscal notes were                                                                        
Representative Phillips noted that the authority was                                                                            
originally under the Department of Corrections. She                                                                             
questioned why it was transferred to the Legislative                                                                            
Council. Mr. Stolz did not know why the authority was                                                                           
transferred but guessed that the intent was to avoid                                                                            
Representative Grussendorf observed that the Department of                                                                      
Corrections is required to notify the victim every time                                                                         
certain things happen and questioned if the authority is                                                                        
being removed too far. He asked where the office would be                                                                       
located. Co-Chair Therriault noted that the entity would be                                                                     
located within the legislative branch. Mr. Stolz pointed out                                                                    
that section 10 of the public notice section was amended to                                                                     
conform to section 9.                                                                                                           
Representative J. Davies observed that "traditionally",                                                                         
ombudsmen are located in the legislative branch since they                                                                      
are checking up on the administrative branch.                                                                                   
(TAPE CHANGE, HFC 00 - 128, SIDE 1)                                                                                             
Representative Phillips observed that the Legislative                                                                           
Council had not discussed the transfer of authority. She                                                                        
requested that the proposed committee substitute be held.                                                                       
Mr. Stolz pointed out that similar legislation (SB 219,                                                                         
1998) and the original bill did provide for the ombudsman                                                                       
authority to be under the legislative branch. The                                                                               
Legislative Affairs Agency has previously submitted fiscal                                                                      
ROBERT BUTTCANE, DIVISION OF JUVINELLE JUSTICE, DEPARTMENT                                                                      
OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES provided information regarding                                                                    
the legislation. He expressed appreciation for the                                                                              
participation of victims. He observed that victims help to                                                                      
hold juvenile offenders accountable for their actions and                                                                       
have helped reduce recidivism. He noted that portions of SB
4 would add victims' services. He expressed concern that the                                                                    
legislation would create an "entity to watch the doers of                                                                       
service, provide services to victims." He suggested that                                                                        
agencies that work directly with victims be given additional                                                                    
resources to do more of what they are mandated to do under                                                                      
the Constitution. He acknowledged that the legislation is                                                                       
part of the movement toward restorative justice.                                                                                
In response to a question by Representative Grussendorf, Mr.                                                                    
Buttcane noted that in the juvenile system, victims are                                                                         
notified of proceedings of delinquency hearings. Victims are                                                                    
provided an opportunity to give statements to the court for                                                                     
juvenile delinquency dispositions. Victims advocacy groups                                                                      
help arrange victim/offender mediation in the informal                                                                          
process. Victims are notified when juveniles are being                                                                          
released from youth facilities. Victims are also given                                                                          
access to the criminal justice system: notification and                                                                         
opportunities to be present at sentencing.                                                                                      
Representative Grussendorf questioned what would be the role                                                                    
of the paralegals and ombudsman mandated by the legislation.                                                                    
Mr. Buttcane observed that victims sometimes hesitate to                                                                        
participate in the system and felt that an advocate would                                                                       
give victims support and help them to take a more active                                                                        
role in the juvenile and criminal justice processes. He felt                                                                    
that one of the drawbacks would be that the ombudsman would                                                                     
highlight deficiencies in the Department of Health and                                                                          
Social Services' ability to do all that they are asked to do                                                                    
through negligence or inadequate resources. There is a civil                                                                    
penalty that could result in punitive action against an                                                                         
individual or agency. The Department of Health and Social                                                                       
Services felt that the civil penalty would be problematic.                                                                      
He stressed the need for more resources and front line                                                                          
services and questioned the need for an ombudsman.                                                                              
ANNE CARPENETI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF                                                                       
LAW noted that she had not had time to look at the committee                                                                    
substitute.  She echoed the comments made by Mr. Buttcane.                                                                      
She stated that there are some concerns that resources would                                                                    
be spent on an ombudsman level of services rather than on                                                                       
direct services to victims that are already given by other                                                                      
agencies. She observed that legislation sponsored by                                                                            
Representative Dyson would provide a provision for                                                                              
negotiated pleads between defendants and victims. She                                                                           
stressed that if this legislation were enacted into law an                                                                      
ombudsman would be kept busy negotiating pleas on behalf of                                                                     
victims. She noted concern with the potential level of                                                                          
increased work considering the level of funding accompanying                                                                    
the legislation.                                                                                                                
Representative Phillips noted that the responsibilities of                                                                      
the Legislative Council go beyond negotiating the contract.                                                                     
She observed that the legislation states that:                                                                                  
(a)  Subject to restrictions and limitations imposed by                                                                         
the executive director of the Legislative Affairs                                                                               
Agency, the administrative facilities and services of                                                                           
the Legislative Affairs Agency, including computer,                                                                             
data processing, and teleconference facilities, may be                                                                          
made available to the victims' advocate to be used in                                                                           
the management of the office of victims' rights and to                                                                          
carry out the purposes of this chapter.                                                                                         
(b)  The salary and benefits of the victims' advocate                                                                           
and the permanent staff of the victims' advocate shall                                                                          
be paid through the same procedures used for payment of                                                                         
the salaries and benefits of other permanent                                                                                    
legislative employees.                                                                                                          
(c)  The victims' advocate shall submit a budget for                                                                            
each fiscal year to the Alaska Legislative Council, and                                                                         
the Council shall annually submit an estimated budget                                                                           
to the governor for information purposes in the                                                                                 
preparation of the executive budget. After reviewing                                                                            
and approving, with or without modifications, the                                                                               
budget submitted by the victims' advocate, the Council                                                                          
shall submit the approved budget to the finance                                                                                 
committees of the legislature.                                                                                                  
Representative Phillips concluded that an agency is being                                                                       
SB 4 was heard and HELD in Committee for further                                                                                

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