Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/23/1995 03:05 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HHES - 02/23/95 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG noticed that HB 15, which was recently heard and passed out of the House HESS Committee, was very similar to HB 104. Representative Rokeberg said the differences appear to lie in the methodologies. He asked if Representative Kott or any of his staff was familiar with HB 15, and if they could enumerate the differences between HB 104, HB 15, and HB 125. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he was not familiar with the contents of HB 15. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked for the name of HB 15. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG read the name of HB 15: "An Act authorizing the disclosure for the court records of the name, address and picture of, and other information about certain minors for whom a delinquency petition is filed." Representative Rokeberg noted that he was co-sponsor of HB 15, and Representative Gene Therriault is the sponsor. He noted that HB 15 and HB 104 are very similar. Number 2068 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY recalled that with HB 15, the problem lay in exactly the same area -- the legality of what would occur if the information was released, and where public funding would be lost. She called for information on this issue. REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON said that there are three bills that are very similar, HB 15, HB 104 and HB 125. In some ways, it is a shame that HB 15 has been moved already and not kept for a subcommittee in which all three bills could be studied. In addition, Representative Robinson asked how all three bills fit with Senate Bill 54 concerning the juvenile waiver. This was passed last year. Representative Robinson understands that the departments are moving to get their regulations in line so they can begin revealing this information to the school districts. It is very obvious from communication with school districts that many districts don't realize what is about to occur. Number 2133 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, General Counsel to the Judicial Branch of the state of Alaska, said that as a matter of policy, the Supreme Court takes no position on any pieces of legislation that do not directly affect the internal administration of the Judicial Branch. The courts believe that bills such as HB 104, that do not affect their internal administration, are bills which the constitution leaves to the policy judgement of the legislature and it would be inappropriate for the court to comment. MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that however, the courts do provide its best estimate of what a particular piece of legislation might cost the court system, as well as point out technical problems and perhaps make suggestions which could reduce the cost of a bill. Number 2165 MR. CHRISTENSEN also noted there are a number of bills that have been introduced this year that relate to the release of juvenile records. The first one the HESS Committee heard was HB 15, and HBs 104 and 125 are before the committee today. MR. CHRISTENSEN asked to discuss the basic problems that exist with the court system's juvenile records, as well as to speak on how those problems tie in with this legislation. Most of the bills, as they were introduced, put the duty on the court system to release its records as opposed to putting the duty on the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS) to release its records. The one exception was the original version of HB 104. As introduced, that would have the DFYS release its records to the public. Number 2192 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that a short time ago, a sponsor substitute for HB 104 was released that shifted the responsibility to the courts. Mr. Christensen spoke with the staff of the bill's prime sponsor to ask why this was done. He assumed it was done because there has been a great deal of discussion around the legislature in the last few weeks as to whether or not the DFYS can actually perform this function. MR. CHRISTENSEN was advised that the burden was shifted to the courts because it was assumed that the court records were far more complete and would give the public more information. He said that unlike the DFYS, which has a statewide, computerized juvenile records system, court records are all paper files. They are not computerized, and there is no statewide repository or statewide index. If a person asks for information to be released from a juvenile's records, as would be the case under HB 104, essentially, instead of having a clerk punch a name into a computer, receiving a printout and handing it to the inquirer, a range 8 counter clerk would have to look through the index of names which is usually on microfilm or on hard copy. The court system cannot let a member of the public look through the index because most of the names in it are secret. MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that the clerk would then have to find and pull the file. Next, since a range 8 would not be qualified to determine what is in the file, the file would be given to a range 14 legal technician. This technician leafs through the file, page by page, trying to determine what the child had been convicted of or adjudicated for, whether or not it met the parameters of the legislation and whether or not the information could be released. Information would then be put on a form and provided to the public. Number 2260 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that obviously this is an involved process. Many individuals have 2-inch thick files, unfortunately, which would take a lot of time to look through. The second problem is that the court does not have a statewide records repository or index. The significance of that is if a person in Anchorage goes into the courthouse and asks if his next door neighbor has a felony record, the only thing the court can tell him is if the neighbor was adjudicated delinquent of a felony in Anchorage. There are 14 juvenile courts around the state. If a person wanted to know if the child had a record in the state, you would have to contact all 14 courts. MR. CHRISTENSEN added that these are the underlying problems the courts have with the juvenile records system. The courts have submitted a fiscal note which is based, in part, with the court's experience with release of adult records and the court's experience with the Victim's Rights Act. This was passed about five years ago. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that before the Victim's Rights Act, adult records were completely open to the public. However, this Act required that certain parts of those records were to be made secret. Each year since that, the courts have had from $120,000 to $150,000 in clerical overtime to implement that legislation. This overtime is unfunded. No funding was received for that overtime pay. MR. CHRISTENSEN assured the HESS Committee members that therefore, the court system is sensitive to the whole issue of making parts of files open and parts secret. TAPE 95-10, SIDE B Number 000 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that based on statistics from DFYS it has been determined there are roughly 250 juveniles each year that are actually adjudicated delinquent for a felony, aged 14 and above. This is not very many children. The problem is a member of the public can come in and ask about any child. Right now there are about 38,000 juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 in Alaska. Of course, there are many more people aged 18-25 that members of the public might be curious about. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the court must attempt to locate records on any child, and if there is a record, leaf through it page by page. Number 046 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that each year the court receives about 3,500 written requests statewide for adult criminal records. The courts will only accept a written request if the requestor does not live in a community where the court is located. However, in Anchorage alone, approximately 75 people each day come in to look at adult criminal files. Those 75 people look at a total of about 500 different criminal files every day. Most of those people represent credit agencies and employment services, which is why they are requesting multiple files. These numbers add up to about 100,000 requests to look at adult files every year statewide. MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that with adult files, the people who do the requesting do all the work. They look into the index themselves, they tell the clerk the name. A counter clerk walks back, picks up the file, gives it to the person and the person looks through the file. The only time spent is the five minutes for the retrieval and replacement of the file. Number 138 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that in the case of the juvenile records, someone from the court system is going to have to leaf through every file and separate what is disclosable and what is not. The court expects a substantial number of juvenile records to be requested. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that an employer who is hiring a 22-year-old right out of college may customarily send someone to see if that person had an adult record. The potential employer may also want to check if he or she had a juvenile record if that was an option. It may be very significant if a potential employee was adjudicated a delinquent for felony theft or sexual assault of a co-worker five years earlier, when he or she was 17 years old. Number 190 MR. CHRISTENSEN expects people to look at juvenile records if that is an option. He expects the numbers will be very substantial. There is one change that does not relate to this whole issue of which agency is best suited to release information. This change could bring the cost downs dramatically. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that currently, HB 104 is drafted so that it applies to any juvenile record the courts have, regardless of how far back the crime goes. If the bill were drafted so it only applied to children who were convicted of felonies after the effective date of the Act, as each child was adjudicated a delinquent, a one-page form would be prepared that could be placed on the front page of the file. This form could be prepared either by the DFYS or the courts. There could also be a public index on those 250 kids each year. MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that the public could look through the index and determine if a child was in there or not. If the child was in there, it would merely be a matter of pulling that one piece of paper off the top of the file, photocopying it, and handing that photocopy to the requestor. The problem of having to leaf through files page by page only arises in reference to files that are already in existence. Number 269 MR. CHRISTENSEN allowed that the big issue still remains of which agency is allowed to release the information. He has spoken with the Deputy Commissioner of the Children's Bureau for the Department of Health and Social Services in Washington, D.C. He indicated there would be an opinion from their general counsel in the next week and a half. The Deputy Commissioner would not tell what the opinion was yet, however he indicated to Mr. Christensen that probably any state agency that received its information from the DFYS would receive the same treatment regarding the release of information. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that all of the court's records are from DFYS. The only knowledge the courts have on a juvenile is from DFYS. It is the understanding of Mr. Christensen that the opinion from the Deputy Commissioner will be if DFYS cannot release the information, the courts cannot release it either. Mr. Christensen understands that the reason the final opinion is taking so long is because the research is being expanded. There is a secondary question of whether or not the police agencies can release this information. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the police agencies do not get their information from DFYS. They generate it on their own. That is the additional issue being studied currently, resulting in delays. Number 347 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that one alternative from having either DFYS or the courts release the juvenile records might be to place just the names, addresses and the crime each of the 250 children each year who are adjudicated delinquent for felony were convicted of in the Alaska Public Safety Information Network, (APSIN), the state's adult criminal computer. Legislation was passed last year which said as of July 1, 1995, APSIN is going to available to the public, resulting in current criminal information being available to the public. MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that putting the names, addresses and crimes of the 250 juvenile delinquent names into the computer would be a very inexpensive way for the public to access the information. However, a problem may still exist in that the APSIN system must get the juvenile information from either DFYS or the courts, so the system may still not be able to release that information. Mr. Christensen said that more would be known in about a week's time, and he would try to answer the questions of the HESS Committee members. Number 410 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if it would simplify matters if the juvenile restriction on releasing information and special considerations for juveniles was simply done away with. Mr. Christensen asked for clarification, and if Representative Vezey was suggesting making juvenile records public, just like adult records. MR. CHRISTENSEN answered that if those special considerations were removed, someone could ask for a record and a member of the court system would hand it to them. Although, there are public policy implications present in that situation that the court system would not address. Those would be under the jurisdiction of another system. Number 447 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked what the impact would be on the court system. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the courts would expect many requests for records, just like it does for the adults. However, currently the problem lies in the fact that the courts have to do the research for the public if the juvenile records are still sealed. If the records were open, a member of the court system could simply give the file to the requestor, just like is done currently with adult records. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY understood from Mr. Christensen's testimony that the criminal computer system is going to be open for public use soon. It appears that the courts are moving toward a system in which the public does its own research. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the computer he referred to is the Department of Public Safety's computer, The Alaska Public Safety Information Network. This is the state's criminal records computer for all adults. Juveniles are not in the system currently. The computer system has been in existence for many years, but as of July 1, the public will be able to access certain adult records in that computer. Number 520 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the current burden on the court system will be reduced when APSIN is opened to public use. He asked if the burden would be reduced further if juveniles were included in that system. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that remains to be seen. He suspects that professionals, like the credit and employment agencies, will very likely ask for information from the Department of Public Safety rather than go through the court system. They will receive a printout of what the person did. If the agencies want copies of the documents such as the charge or record of conviction, which they often do, they will have to come to the court system to get copies of those documents. Number 625 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that several more people were available to testify, including Melinda Gruening from Representative Joe Green's office. Ms. Gruening offered to discuss similarities and differences between House Bills 15, 104 and 125. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that he would like to hear testimony and discuss HB 104 completely before hearing a comparison between the three bills. In that way, the HESS Committee members will have more knowledge of what they are comparing. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that the committee will not pass HB 104 out today, because there will be other testimony. It would be best to wait the two weeks for the rest of the information from Washington, D.C. Number 643 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Karen Perdue, said the Department of Law (DOL) will also be testifying. The DOL has done research in this issue as well as other bills on juvenile records. MR. LINDSTROM said there has been much discussion during this and other hearings about what other states do in this area. While Mr. Lindstrom does not have a complete record of the other states' activities, he does have some information about some states. MR. LINDSTROM said that during the hearing on HB 15, several states were cited as providing open and essentially unlimited public access to juvenile records with no apparent impact on their federal funds. Those states were called. Number 717 MR. LINDSTROM explained that the DHSS spoke to a person in Colorado's Juvenile Justice Planning Department. In 1993, a special session of the legislature made several changes in the disclosure statutes. Legislation was also enacted to meet the federal mandates regarding the Safe Schools Act, which requires automatic expulsion for the possession of weapons. MR. LINDSTROM said a side effect of the legislation has resulted in a 160 percent increase in expulsions in their schools. This was not anticipated, and now Colorado is scrambling to assemble some sort of alternative schooling for those individuals. To have these expelled students not in school and not working has created some new problems to be addressed. MR. LINDSTROM continued that in Kansas, the entire juvenile code is under revision. Currently, open inspection of court records is available for any juvenile above 14 years of age. Staff in Illinois advised that only court records of juveniles waived to adult court could be opened to the public without court order. In Rhode Island, this same policy was enacted. Number 809 MR. LINDSTROM provided general information on states with legislation concerning disclosure of juvenile records to school districts. The DHSS does not have details, however there are certain states with statutes concerning that area, such as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and a number of others. MR. LINDSTROM also said that the DHSS believes there are 28 states which release the name and/or picture of juveniles under certain conditions. He is sure those conditions vary widely. Nineteen states have no statutes whatsoever in this regard, and four states by statute do not allow any publicity in this regard. MR. LINDSTROM said there is very little to report concerning fiscal notes. Currently, the fiscal notes prepared for HB 104 are identical to the fiscal notes prepared by the DHSS for HB 15. Those fiscal notes anticipate the loss of federal funds, based on DHSS understanding from Region X. The DHSS will revise those fiscal notes if they receive contrary information from the federal agencies. Mr. Lindstrom said he was not an expert in the DHSS juvenile records system. It is an automated system, but the information available does not go much farther back past 1990. Number 917 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General with the Department of Law, Criminal Division, said the release of juvenile information was currently a problematic area. There are four bills pending which relate to the disclosure of information about juveniles. Ms. Knuth feels that the bills can be looked at as relating to two different types of release of information. MS. KNUTH said that HB 15 and part of HB 104 would like to create a categorical release of information about juveniles who have either been adjudicated of a single felony or a second felony. The second area these bills are addressing is what information may be released about these individuals on a case-by-case basis. A year ago in Alaska, the school districts expressed tremendous frustration because there was case-by-case information they were unable to get about students attending their schools because law enforcement agencies and the DHSS were saying it was not clear, under existing state law, whether information could be released or not. MS. KNUTH said that different interpretations of the law was taking place around the state. In some places, cooperation was prevalent. In other places, the agencies flatly declined to release information on the fear that the agencies would incur liability. Number 1025 MS. KNUTH continued that at the same time, there was a provision in the statute that allowed the court to publish the name of a juvenile and the offense for any second felony and the adjudication. That statute has been on the books for many years. Juvenile waiver was a major theme last session. There were a number of bills addressing this issue. The executive branch took advantage of the interest and the opportunity to put together a comprehensive amendment regarding the disclosure of juvenile records. MS. KNUTH said that a task force met around the state for months. About 25 people met each time, all concerned about clarifying the law on the disclosure of juvenile records. The task force came up with legislation and asked the committees to append this legislation to the juvenile waiver bill that was passed. For the last five months, there has been a new and different law on the disclosure of juvenile records. MS. KNUTH added that one of the things that Senate Bill 54 did, was it repealed the provision that allowed for the categorical release of second adjudication information because of the jeopardy it brought to the Title IV federal funds. At that point last year, there did not seem to be any confusion in the federal system that, in Alaska, categorical release of the identity of juveniles for offenses did jeopardize the Title IV funds. MS. KNUTH said this has to do with several things, one of which is the fact that juveniles are handled out of the DHSS in Alaska, rather than the Department of Corrections. If all children were passed to corrections, there would not be an intermingling of "help the kids" and "punish the kids" programs. It is the combination in Alaska that has raised the concerns. Number 1127 MS. KNUTH said that at this point, the federal government is revisiting the issue and they hope to have an answer within the next week. With respect to discretionary releases of information, and making information available on a case-by-case, need to know basis, Alaska is now as liberal as any state in the Union. Alaska gave the agency and law enforcement the explicit authority to make disclosures. The problem is that it has only been five months. There are regulations being promulgated, however the process takes time. There has been a communication failure. MS. KNUTH explained that the system Senate Bill 54 brought last year has not been tried yet. Ms. Knuth thinks that all of the agencies in the executive branch are sensitive to the issue and want to cooperate in any way possible. If there are gaps or problems in SB 54, the executive branch is flexible. At this point, it seems there has been an initial education gap or failure, and a lot of the school systems do not know that five months ago the system changed. Number 1207 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY closed testimony on HB 104 and announced that the bill was being held pending further information. Representative Rokeberg and Representative Davis left the meeting at 4:10 p.m. A quorum was still present. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if the intent of the committee was to put all the bills into a subcommittee in an attempt to come up with an overall ruling. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that decision would be made shortly. She called for further testimony and clarification. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked for clarification on the similarities and differences between Hbs 15, 104 and 125. HHES - 02/23/95 HB 125 - JUVENILE CRIMINAL RECORDS TO SCHOOLS Number 1306 MELINDA GRUENING, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green, passed along Representative Green's regrets that he could not personally testify at the HESS Committee. MS. GRUENING said that one of the leading problems that school administrators face is violence in the schools and how to deal with it. Currently, there is no requirement that a school principal be given records regarding an adjudicated delinquent who is attending his or her school. Some juvenile offenders have committed very serious crimes and are in schools, and school officials are left out of the information loop and do not know who those students are. MS. GRUENING said that HB 125 helps to address this problem. Last year the legislature passed SB 54, the Juvenile Waiver Bill, which has been already discussed. This bill requires serious juvenile offenders over 16 years of age be automatically waived into adult court. However, there is no automatic waiver for juvenile offenders aged 15 and under, some of whom have committed very serious crimes. Number 1360 MS. GRUENING continued that also included in SB 54 was a section that did address the disclosure of state and agency records. However, the statute that deals with juvenile disclosure created by the passage of SB 54 makes such disclosure discretionary, not mandatory. That is why Representative Green felt the issue needed to be further addressed beyond what was addressed last session. MS. GRUENING said the crimes covered by this mandatory disclosure would include homicide, assault, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, sexual offenses, robbery, extortion, offenses against property, controlled substance offenses and possession or use of a deadly weapon. It is these records with which HB 125 is concerned. HB 125, if enacted, would require mandatory disclosure of an adjudicated juvenile's court records to school officials if the offense was committed on school property or if the minor had committed offenses that, if committed by an adult, would be considered a serious felony. MS. GRUENING said that additionally HB 125 would require mandatory disclosure by law enforcement agencies to school officials if the agency had probable cause to believe that the minor had committed an offense that would be a crime if committed by an adult and the victim is a student or staff member of the school, or the disclosure is necessary to protect the safety of school students and staff. MS. GRUENING said that HB 125 places limits on further disclosures by those school officials, and since schools already adhere to strict confidentiality standards, the disclosure would fall under their existing confidentiality policies. The information provided by mandatory disclosure would protect the victims of juvenile crime, protect students, protect teachers, and give the principal information that would allow him or her to use the school's many resources to provide help for the adjudicated delinquent. MS. GRUENING said that if schools are held responsible for the safety of students and faculty, school officials must have the necessary information about student violence to do their job properly. MS. GRUENING pointed out that, unlike the previous bill, DHSS provided HB 125 with a zero fiscal note. The DHSS does not feel this bill would affect the Title IV funds. Number 1465 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Ms. Gruening has heard of the Challenge Program offered through the Alaska State National Guard. MS. GRUENING said she had not. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE explained that this was a program that offers at-risk youth the possibility of a boot camp-like scenario as well as educational opportunities. Individuals can receive their Graduate Equivalent Degree (GED), or maybe learn some vocational skills, as well as come out of the program with a fairly substantial stipend to be put toward further education. This program cannot access records of at-risk youth as well. Representative Brice wondered if Ms. Gruening would be willing to discuss a type of amendment of HB 125 which stipulated that as long as the files are kept confidential and the DHSS does not attach a substantial fiscal note, the program would be able to access juvenile records. MS. GRUENING said she would have to speak with Representative Green and do research to see if such an amendment would affect the Title IV funds. She thinks that currently, the reason HB 125 does not affect those funds is because it specifically releases information to school officials. The whole emphasis of the bill is to try to provide information that the administrators need. The purpose of the bill is not to have a public file. All information would remain confidential, but the administrators would be given the information they need to keep students safe and to help the person who had committed the offense. Number 1564 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if testimony should be heard again from Mr. Christensen, Mr. Lindstrom and Ms. Knuth on HB 125. HHES - 02/23/95 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he would like to hear a comparison between HB 15, 104 and 125 from Ms. Gruening. He also called for further testimony on HB 125. MS. GRUENING said the differences are very confusing. There are four bills that relate to the disclosure of juvenile information. There are Hbs 15, 104 and 125, and SB 29. Senate Bill 29 and HB 125 deal specifically with disclosure to school officials. The difference between HB 125 and SB 29 is that part of SB 29 is still discretionary. Part of the disclosure, the disclosure of law enforcement, is discretionary. HB 125 stipulates for mandatory disclosure on the part of law enforcement and the court system. Those are the two that are specifically school disclosure bills. Number 1635 MS. GRUENING continued that HB 104 is a general disclosure and a school disclosure in one bill. It is a public disclosure that would take place through the court system, and also disclosure would take place to school officials. The portion of HB 104 that relates to school disclosure, compared to HB 125 which calls for school disclosure, is that HB 104 is partially mandatory to the schools, and partially discretionary. HB 125 is completely mandatory. That is a comparison of only those two sections of Hbs 104 and 125. MS. GRUENING explained that HB 15, which had been already heard and passed out of the HESS Committee, is a general public disclosure. It does not address school issues. Ms. Gruening said she had research done on what other states are doing. She offered to make copies for the HESS Committee members as the bills were addressed. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY appreciated her offer and asked her for that information. Number 1712 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that HB 125 causes the court system "substantially less heartburn." This bill will not result in the potential of tens of thousands of records requests every year. He estimates there might be 350 cases each year when the court system has to send a document to a school official. The costs associated with this are relatively small. As indicated previously, with the Adult Victims' Rights Act, the court system is spending about $120,000 to $150,000 each year. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the reason the cost of HB 125 would be so low is the court system has figured out a way to place 75 percent of the burden on the attorney's in Alaska. Mr. Christensen suggests that at the time of an adjudication by court rule, DFYS be required to provide the courts with a document that states that this is a qualifying crime and provides the name of the juvenile's principal and the address of the school. The court system will simply drop that document into the mail. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the middle man could be further eliminated by simply having DFYS drop the document into the mail. Number 1761 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he is not sure why DFYS would have records that the court does not have. He asked why a middle man is used. He wanted to know why disclosure wouldn't be required from whoever originates the record. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that under his understanding, the reason HB 125 was drafted the way it was is because people were assuming DFYS could not release records, while the courts could do so. However, testimony has now been heard that suggests that the DFYS could release such information to schools. DFYS would have information concerning the school principal's names. The court system would not know this information unless they asked DFYS. All the information the court would have, it would get from DFYS and then pass along. If it is legally possible, it may be easier to have DFYS release information and eliminate the court's role as a middle man. This is only if this would be legally possible. Number 1804 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why it would not be easiest to simply have the police records available for public release, and not involve any bureaucracy. If there is an arrest, there will be a report. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that it was his understanding that HB 125 is requiring a copy of the court's adjudication order. This is the finding that the individual was guilty and had been adjudicated a delinquent. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY thought the individual had to be charged of a crime, when in fact the person must be adjudicated. MR. CHRISTENSEN said the records that the court is supposed to provide is a copy of the adjudication order. The court system would generate that based on information from DFYS. This order would then be passed on. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that at this time, police are prohibited from releasing information on juveniles. He asked why that prohibition could not be repealed, and the records could be made public from that avenue. MR. CHRISTENSEN said he was not qualified to answer such a question. Number 1880 MR. LINDSTROM said his previous remarks generally dealt with both Hbs 104 and 125. To reinforce some of Ms. Knuth's statements, Mr. Lindstrom said that the DHSS believes that once the regulatory scheme is put into place, and the opportunity to work with individual school districts and other local law enforcement as well, the existing law will allow the courts to do what the intent of the bill really is. MR. LINDSTROM said there is a perception that DHSS does not share any information at all with school districts at this time. That is not true. Individual probation officers from the DFYS are constantly speaking with school personnel such as counselors and teachers. Perhaps communication does not take place so much with principals. Mr. Lindstrom does not know if concern for this information is originating from teachers or administrators. DHSS believes that given time and the ability to communicate, a lot of contentions can be set right. Number 1930 MR. LINDSTROM said that DHSS recognizes on a need-to-know basis that the DHSS not only has the ability to share, but the DHSS ought to be sharing information with school districts to protect the public, students and faculty. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if DHSS had a time frame in mind. MR. LINDSTROM answered that the DFYS is currently going through a massive regulatory project. HB 412 allowed the DHSS to rewrite all licensing regulations. There are regulations which will result from SB 45, the runaway bill from last year. Regulations are resulting from SB 54, the waiver bill. The DHSS is doing everything at once, and this massive program is going to take longer than both the DHSS and the legislature would like. Certainly, over the next interim, all those regulatory items will be moving forward from the DFYS. Number 1986 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the DHSS becomes involved in the adjudication process, perhaps shortly after an arrest. MR. LINDSTROM asked if he could have the Director of the Division of Family and Youth Services testify, as she is more knowledgeable in this area. CATHY TIBBLES, Director of the Division of Family and Youth Services, said the division does become involved after a police report. Probation officers are participating in an investigation to see whether there is sufficient evidence to go forward. They also work with the DOL concerning the charges to be filed and how likely it is a case will proceed through the court process. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the DFYS gets involved in every juvenile arrest, or just if the courts order the DFYS to do so. MS. TIBBLES said the DFYS receives every police referral. Some are handled very informally, perhaps with parental meetings. Those that contain serious charges are handled with the DOL and go before the court for a petition. The court then decides what happens from there. The referral moves from the DFYS to the court, rather than from the police to the court, and then to the DFYS. Number 2046 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the referral ever goes from the police to the courts without being sent to DFYS. MS. TIBBLES said it is possible for a person other than a DFYS employee to petition the court on a juvenile or a child in need of aid. It is rarely done. Generally, a division employee files a petition to the court. The court does not and cannot hear matters without a petition being brought before it. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY understood that if a person is arrested, there is a period in which either bail is made or he or she is restrained. They don't just arrest you and say, "Sign here, you can go home now," unless perhaps it is a misdemeanor or a traffic violation. If you are arrested for a felony, you have lost your civil rights until somehow the court is satisfied. Representative Vezey said he was not familiar enough with the system. He wanted to know if DFYS gets involved every time, how a juvenile is released from police custody, and does the court bring in a guardian of the juvenile. TAPE 95-11, SIDE A Number 000 MS. TIBBLES knew of instances, possibly just with misdemeanors, where juveniles are not taken to a juvenile facility and booked. She did not know about every single felony offense. It seems that Hbs 104 and 125 are speaking of felonies and she does not know the level of seriousness of those felonies. She did not know if all arrests ends up in an overnight at a youth facility and a petition to the court. It often depends on the responsibility shown and accepted by a parent, whether or not the child will be released to a parent or taken to a facility. MS. TIBBLES does not believe that the system operates exactly as an adult felony arrest, although the processes are very much alike. As in the adult system, the DOL would be involved in terms of what charge will be brought to the court for the court to then resolve. For example, is the crime a felony, would it be reduced to a misdemeanor, would there be a plea, would there be bail, etc. MS. TIBBLES said the legalities of the juvenile system are not that different than the adult system. Number 100 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said the point he was attempting to resolve is what will have to be done to allow the police to release juvenile information. MS. TIBBLES said one of the issues is a policy call, which is whether or not the legislature wants police to release the information. It also depends on whether or not the legislature wants police to release information to schools, or if the legislature wants to mandate that police release this information. It depends on whether the legislature wants the police to release information to schools prior to an adjudication. MS. TIBBLES said often, the initial charge does not end up being the final charge. She said it could probably be mandated that police release information to schools at any desired level, however the DOL could answer that question better than she. Number 180 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he has been trying to find the answer to this question and cannot. Number 210 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said there is a very low number of intake staff people at the DFYS, and that can also cause a major delay in the process. MS. TIBBLES said there is definitely a shortage of staff. The speed with which an investigation is completed, processed and a determination is made about the final charge depends on the seriousness of the initial charge. The DFYS responds in some fashion to every referral. Misdemeanors and offenses such as shoplifting very often result in a letter sent to a parent saying, if this happens again, a heavier penalty will occur. MS. TIBBLES continued that she does not know how fast the process is. The DFYS must set up some sort of prioritization for the juveniles and offenses that must be taken up quickly. Some have to do with the amount of time a child is detained before the DFYS can proceed further. Number 304 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON clarified that in a misdemeanor case the process may be slower than if the offense committed would be a felony had it been perpetrated by an adult. If a juvenile committed a serious felony offense, such as murder, Representative Robinson finds it difficult to believe that in a community such as Juneau that information would not be transmitted quickly "through the grapevine" to the principals and the counselors at the youth's school. MS. TIBBLES thought it would be difficult in Juneau for the school administrators and faculty not to find out about a serious crime. It is possible, however, in Anchorage. There is a difference between what principals may know and what teachers and counselors know by working day-to-day with probation staff. That is a gap in information that needs to be addressed. Number 412 MS. KNUTH said the fact that DHSS is working on regulations that are not yet completed does not mean that AS 47.10.90 and AS 47.10.093 cannot be implemented right away. To the extent that there is a communication/information lag, steps can be immediately taken to remedy that. For example, a memorandum can be sent to school districts, or calls can be made. Given that the DHSS backlog is considerable, the DHSS does not have to be assigned that task. MS. KNUTH continued that the DOL has a concern in all the bills that requires disclosures to school principals in certain circumstances. The law passed last year, AS 47.10.093, gives both state and municipal agencies and law enforcement agencies the authority to disclose, to school officials, information regarding the case as may be necessary to protect the safety of school students and staff. There has not been an occasion under this new statute where a school wanted information and it was withheld. There just has not yet been any implementation of the law. Number 513 MS. KNUTH said that any time there is a mandatory disclosure, one of the first concerns is, what effect might that have on an ongoing investigation or other investigations. Obviously, you do not want to make a disclosure that may impede a very critical investigation. If it is a violent offense, the thing to do is make the disclosure a matter of timing. These bills have all been amended through Sponsor Substitutes (SS) or Committee Substitutes (CS) to have a provision saying notwithstanding the mandatory disclosure provision, an agency is not required to notify a principal if the agency determines that notice would jeopardize an ongoing investigation. MS. KNUTH felt this was a good provision, however she did not know if it was an adequate provision. It is something that may warrant further study. MS. KNUTH addressed the wholesale opening of police records relating to juveniles. There currently is a statute that prohibits this, but that can be changed by the legislature. The only concerns after that would be in regards to the withholding of federal funds. Ms. Knuth is not aware of any such federal act that would stipulate the withdrawal of those funds. MS. KNUTH said finally, one would have to ask, does such a disclosure violate the Alaskan or United States Constitution. Ms. Knuth is not aware of any federal constitutional provision that could present a problem in this respect. It is possible, in Alaska, for the Supreme Court to say that the right of privacy requires a different treatment of juvenile records than adult records. Our hopes for rehabilitation is greater in juveniles, and more emphasis should be placed on privacy. MS. KNUTH said the argument in either direction would be strong, and she can speculate that the Alaska Supreme Court would stand behind the privacy issue. Aside from that, Ms. Knuth is not aware of any other factor that would not allow the release of information through the police agencies, if the policy were changed by the legislature. Number 644 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why the arrest reports cannot simply be made public. MS. KNUTH believes that involves the constitutional issue, of whether people who have been arrested, but either not charged or not convicted, have an interest in not having that information be made public, and possibly tarnishing their reputations. Everyone hears about a juvenile who has been arrested for shoplifting or a more serious offense. Very few people hear that the person was not guilty. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that if a person was over 18 years old, there is no question that a police report is public record. MS. KNUTH said that the police report is not public record. In fact, there is an entire mass of opinion which was she authored concerning the public disclosure of police records. There is not one answer. There is a continuum concerning how long ago the offense occurred, whether the defendant was a public figure, if there was a conviction, if there was a charge, and what is the likelihood that the allegations are true. All these factors must be weighed in order to decide whether information is disclosable or not. MS. KNUTH said a question always exists regarding whether a police record in Alaska is public knowledge. Number 747 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said perhaps he was using the wrong term when he said "police report." He was under the impression that all arrests in a community were made public in the newspaper if the person was over 18 years old. MS. KNUTH said Representative Vezey was referring to the "Police Blotter." There are three rules applied. The police blotter is a daily record of arrests. That is made public, including adult arrests. The actual report of the arrest and investigation is probably not public at that time. MS. KNUTH said that regarding convictions, the United States Supreme Court said that for federal purposes, a person could go to any court and find out what conviction a person has. However, an individual cannot go to one agency, such as APSIN, and ask for a person's history of criminal convictions. Essentially, that is too easy, according to the Supreme Court. An individual can search and go through a tough process of individual courts, and one by one look for convictions. However, people have an expectation of privacy and personal matters, including these criminal activities such that the information is available, it is just not easily available. MS. KNUTH said someone is going to make that suggestion, in respect to the law that comes into effect on July 1 when APSIN becomes public. Number 844 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked where it says the disclosure of juvenile arrests is not permitted in the police blotter or anywhere. This issue is not being addressed in any of the statutes discussed. MS. KNUTH said AS 47.10.095 concerns the arrest of a minor. It says the arrest of a minor, other than for a traffic offense, is not considered an arrest for any purpose except for the purpose of the disposition of a proceeding arising out of that arrest. She said that is one statute that is cited when someone purports juvenile arrests are different from adult arrests in terms of what information is disclosed and what is not. There are probably other statutes as well. Number 911 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators, said the council is in support of HB 125. The principals across the state of Alaska believe this is very important information to share with school officials. For years, principals and other administrators have provided much information, but have rarely, if ever, been the recipient of information when it comes to children with a DFYS background. MR. McPHETRES said that agencies have come to schools asking for or requiring confidential information. When a principal asks why the information is needed, the agency will say, "We can't tell you, it's confidential." This has plagued teachers and administrators. If the school system is going to work with the whole child, it needs all the information necessary. If there is some information that is lacking, the ability to work with that child in the best way possible is impaired. Number 965 MR. McPHETRES said the schools are dealing with situations that were not present 20 years ago. Youth are creating violent acts, yet the school administrators are required to provide a safe environment in which all children can learn. If administrators do not have information about youth in the schools that have been convicted of felony crimes, it is not possible to properly supervise and design intervention programs for them, and provide a safe environment for all students. MR. McPHETRES believes it is time for the sharing of information to become a two-way street. The State of Georgia Division of Protection conducted seminars across the country for many years. This provided training for community groups regarding protection, courts, juveniles and schools. The seminars created committees that worked with juvenile issues and problems. It has been documented that these programs have helped lower crime rates within the school communities. MR. McPHETRES stressed that the sharing of information does help. It is time that confidence is placed in each other's abilities, talents, skills and expertise, so the nature of the concerns before the school systems today can be addressed. Number 1043 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he has heard varying opinions expressed. He asked if the relationship between the DFYS is cooperative or adversarial. MR. McPHETRES answered that the relationship is cooperative up to the point that the schools provide the information requested. In some cases there are some off-the-record comments made which help administrators deal with the school's youth. However, Mr. McPhetres does not believe the relationship is an open, two-way street. Obviously, this is because of the confidentiality which exists in DFYS records, but somehow that logjam must be broken, and two-way communication must be established. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if Mr. McPhetres believes that, instead of passing another law, that maybe there could be a meeting set up between himself and the DHSS and the two-way information exchange could be established. There is an existing law that starts the process immediately, perhaps another law is not needed. Number 1114 MR. McPHETRES said the school districts are aware of this piece of legislation passed last year. In fact, he was called and asked to get copies of that legislation so the administrators could take it down to their local law enforcement agencies and show that there is something on the books that opens the door to sharing. MR. McPHETRES said the problem lies in the fact that the legislation is very permissive. It says "may." Whenever pieces of legislation are created that say "may," that means the sharing of information is up to the discretion of the individual. The information being requested is very important. That factor must be addressed in some way, and Mr. McPhetres does not know how it is addressed in the current legislation. CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented on the difference between HB 125 and SB 54. First, not all felonies are waived to adult court, and SB 54 changed the burden of proof to the juvenile. If the juvenile can prove they are amenable to rehabilitation they will not be placed in the adult court. Therefore, serious crimes may be committed by individuals who remain in the juvenile system. In this case, the information may not be available to the school district. Number 1197 VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director of the National Education Association (NEA) of Alaska, echoed a comment made relative to HB 15. When children are disruptive, they are generally in a classroom with other children and teachers. NEA Alaska supports HB 125 and the concept of allowing teachers and other school staff access to legally permissible information that is subject to disclosure under the proper means. The problems are in the classroom, and he wants to know if the information would also be provided to teachers so both teachers and principals will be able to deal with problems in terms of a corrective approach as well as an information approach. MR. MARSHALL thinks that in sharing concerns with Ms. Gruening, she can take care of NEA's concerns in the Judiciary Committee. It is fine to give information to principals. But he hopes the principal is not paralytic to the point that he or she is trying to figure out what to do with the information. MR. MARSHALL read page 4 of HB 125, line 29 which reads "...notify the principal, who shall notify the staff of the school attended by a minor...." A person in that system needs to know that information. This is a concern of the NEA. Mr. Marshall agrees with those testifying previously, it seems like teachers and principals often do not share information. Sometimes teachers do not know the kinds of information that is critically needed for them to address the problem and also be aware of the problem. MR. MARSHALL suggests a clause be added to HB 125 to insure that the principal pass the information on to the staff of the school relative to what is legally permissible to disclose. Number 1346 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if Mr. Marshall thought that this lack of information sharing was within the school system, and if legislation and mandates were necessary. She is concerned with schools, and thinks that right now, information could be exchanged if people could talk. A parent simply needs to sign a waiver and all information could be exchanged. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said it seems this lack of information sharing is a structural problem within the school system that needs to be worked on. If the principal or the counselor gets information and is unwilling to share or does not know they should share, that is a school system problem, and does not have to be fixed through legislation. Number 1392 MR. MARSHALL said this is an issue that frustrated teachers one year ago. NEA participated in discussions relative to SB 54. As early as a month ago, the frustration level has not diminished. The violence or disruption issue is of great concern to teachers and staff members. People in addition to teachers can be victimized by disinformation or the lack if information. There is a change in process, but there are also bills pending currently and Mr. Marshall has a responsibility to convey that something is not working. Teachers in classrooms must be made aware of what is going on. MR. MARSHALL agrees that legislation is not necessary in all steps. But this is a concern, and NEA wants to insure that information reaches the classroom where it can do the most good. This may be through legislation or regulation. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY wanted to set up a working group after the meeting. Obviously, many groups have many concerns, and she thinks that the group can come up with one bill that will suffice for everyone. The bill will need to keep teachers and students safe, the court system happy and the funding flowing. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON hoped that Vernon Marshall would meet with the other people who testified and attempt to solve the communication problems. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY wanted to bring all interested parties back to the meeting. She urged everyone to come up with good ideas for a bill that is meaningful to communities and the juveniles.