Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/30/1995 02:10 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 202 - JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1690                                                                   
                                                                               
 LAURIE OTTO, Deputy Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department           
 of Law, said the Governor is very thankful to the HESS Committee              
 for hearing this bill.  She said HB 202 was introduced by the                 
 Governor as a way of getting parents more involved in cases where             
 their children have been charged with acts of delinquency.  After             
 having been a prosecutor for several years, the first time Ms. Otto           
 appeared in a juvenile delinquency case was in 1982.  She was                 
 shocked that the parents of the child were not there, and indeed              
 they were not required to be there.  The case involved a 13-year-             
 old child.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said this has been a problem in statutes for some time.              
 If the state cannot even get the parents to a court hearing, the              
 ability to affect the child's behavior goes down dramatically.                
                                                                               
 Number 1739                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO explained the main part of the bill is in Section 2.                 
 Section 1 is a technical provision to which she will later refer.             
 Section 2 of the bill begins on page 3, line 3.  The first thing              
 the bill does is require parents to be present at all juvenile                
 delinquency hearings unless there is a good cause they can show to            
 the court why they cannot be there.  During the planning of this              
 bill, the Governor had asked the Department of Law (DOL) to speak             
 to police, educators and people who work with delinquent children             
 to see where they felt the biggest gaps in the system were.                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said this area, without exception, was one of the biggest            
 holes identified.  Those groups felt there was a need to require              
 parents to participate in the process.  The second item identified            
 is what is contained in Section (B)(1).  This addresses children              
 who become delinquent because their parents do not have good                  
 parenting skills.  They do not pay attention to what their kids are           
 doing, and they do not supervise them.                                        
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO continued that the courts have become very frustrated over           
 the years because they cannot require, under the current laws,                
 parents to participate in treatment along with children.                      
 Therefore, that is the second point the bill covers.  Likewise, it            
 would allow the court to order parents to monitor their children's            
 behavior and to assist the court in getting the children to comply            
 with the conditions of probation set by the court.                            
                                                                               
 Number 1808                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO noted if the parents are required to participate by the              
 court, the bill says the parents must first use their own insurance           
 and/or resources if they can afford to pay.  If they cannot afford            
 to pay, their permanent fund dividends (PFDs) can be used to pay              
 for the cost of treatment.                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said Section 1 of the bill provides a streamlined                    
 mechanism for the department to be able to go in and get the PFDs             
 to pay for the cost of treatment for the children and their                   
 parents.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1832                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if this would presuppose or require the parent           
 apply for their PFD, and he suggested the bill does not allow for             
 that money to simply be transferred from the earnings reserve.                
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said that is her understanding.                                      
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY counted seven fiscal notes, all equalling zero.               
 She asked if there would be no cost to this bill.  The state is               
 assuming most of these parents have the finances to go to                     
 treatment.  That treatment is very expensive.  Treatment can                  
 include psychology and psychiatry.  Co-Chair Toohey cannot imagine            
 there are seven fiscal notes included with the bill and no cost.              
                                                                               
 Number 1880                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO understands that, for the most part, either the parents              
 can pay or they have insurance to cover the cost.  Right now the              
 treatment of children is paid for by the department.  These are               
 children who are convicted or adjudicated delinquent for crimes.              
 That is already something the state is currently paying for.  Many            
 parents have insurance or resources.  Of the parents that do not,             
 those parents are MedicAid eligible and MedicAid would pay for that           
 treatment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said there is a very small percentage of people that do              
 not have the resources and do not have MedicAid.  The state is                
 going after the PFDs of that small group of people.  In addition,             
 the bill does not limit PFD confiscation to a single year.  The               
 state can continue to retrieve the parent's PFDs.  When the                   
 department looked at the number of children and parents who would             
 fall into this category, it was found to be a very small number --            
 less than 50.                                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1935                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked what kind of protection is offered to              
 the parent of a hard-core juvenile delinquent with severe emotional           
 problems.  Representative Brice was speaking of a child who                   
 currently is not in a youth facility, yet there is not much a                 
 parent can do to stop that child from wreaking havoc on the                   
 community.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said that provision is the next part of the bill,                    
 concerning restitution.  She has an amendment to offer which                  
 addresses that issue.  This committee previously worked out such an           
 amendment to a bill that Co-Chair Bunde had introduced.                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS responded to Co-Chair Toohey's question about            
 the fiscal note.  He said the bill should probably have a negative            
 fiscal note because all the provisions of the bill have already               
 taken place without any compensation to the state.                            
                                                                               
 Number 1993                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO spoke on the next section of the bill, which begins on               
 page 5, line 8.  This requires the minor's parent, as well as the             
 minor to be responsible for restitution.  The DOL views this as an            
 extension of a bill which has already passed the House.  That bill            
 would allow parents to be assessed fines in civil cases.  However,            
 it was the feeling of the DOL that an adjudication is more                    
 appropriately addressed in the context of a criminal case,                    
 particularly if the state is then requiring the parents to                    
 participate in the hearing rather than requiring the victim to get            
 a lawyer and file a separate civil action.  That is very costly to            
 the victim and is somewhat adding insult to injury.                           
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said this does raise the issue that Representative Brice             
 just brought up.  In addition, she knew the HESS Committee has                
 spent much time, both this year and in previous years, debating               
 where to draw the lines between out of control kids and parents who           
 were not trying.                                                              
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO therefore, presented an amendment that exactly tracks the            
 language of Co-Chair Bunde's bill on a similar subject.  The DOL              
 agrees that if a child has run away and the parent has reported the           
 child as a runaway, it is appropriate the parent should not be held           
 responsible for paying restitution for the acts of their child for            
 that period of time.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 2067                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE made a correction.  The bill to which Ms. Otto keeps           
 referring was given to another legislator and has now passed the              
 House.                                                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved Amendment 1.                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said the amendment only deals with runaways.             
 He asked about children who have not run away, but they are out of            
 control.  A parent may come home at 5:00 p.m., and his/her child is           
 gone from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  During that time, the child has            
 created havoc.                                                                
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO said that is a line that must be drawn.  It is the                   
 Governor's and the DOL's feeling that parents need to be                      
 responsible for the acts of their children.  The state cannot solve           
 everyone's problem and be responsible for everybody.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE agreed.  However, he said he had just met with           
 people up in Fairbanks with children who have severe emotional                
 problems such as pyromania and severe sexual disturbances.  The               
 parents feel there is nothing the law has to offer.  The parents              
 feel they can do nothing to keep their children from going out and            
 raising havoc.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 2163                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. OTTO answered by presenting an example of a child out of                  
 control.  That child damages the property of a next door neighbor.            
 She asked, who should bear the loss, the parent or the neighbor?              
 HB 202 says the parent should bear the loss, not the neighbor.                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said that is not the argument he is                      
 presenting.  He asked what is going to be done to help the child,             
 and keep the child from creating the loss.  He then removed his               
 objection, and the Amendment 1 passed.                                        
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced now before the HESS Committee was CS HB              
 202, or HB 202 as amended.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2200                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON noted that Alaska requires parents to go to           
 court with their children if their child has committed a traffic              
 violation.  She has no problem with the intent of this bill.  She             
 thinks quite often parents are frustrated.  If the child and the              
 parent can be in the same room together, it gives the state a                 
 better idea of how to assist that family.  Representative Robinson            
 is a firm believer that a child cannot be helped without the                  
 parent's recognition that they all must work on the problem                   
 together.                                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON was amazed that parents must be with their            
 children for traffic tickets, yet in this type of situation                   
 parental attendance is not required.  This is obviously a lot more            
 important than a speeding ticket.                                             
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that parental attendance may remind them of              
 responsibilities.                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 2248                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said Representative Brice's concern is a                 
 typical issue seen in most legislation. Many amendments on the last           
 bill were similar.  They dealt with somebody who is going to get              
 caught somewhere.  If there is a psychotic child and the parents              
 have no means or capacity to get that child into an institution,              
 which is probably where they should be, these children can cause a            
 lot of problems.  They can easily cause $100,000 worth of damage.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS agrees with Ms. Otto's opinion on who should             
 pay for damages.  If responsibility must be borne, it should be               
 borne by the parents.  At times, however, that cannot be addressed            
 because there are 200 to 300 other instances that need special                
 considerations.  However, Representative Davis can easily see where           
 this can really be a problem.                                                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said what is going to happen is that with HB             
 202, maybe some parents will be more willing to institutionalize              
 some of those children.  This will cost a lot of money.  If the               
 cost cannot be afforded, he feared parents might try more drastic             
 measures, such as home imprisonment.                                          
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-33, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS felt this bill was the right thing to do, but            
 he recognized it is difficult to cover all situations.                        
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE stipulated that the state must be supportive of the            
 greatest number of people possible, and the process is not perfect.           
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY believed that somewhere in the law books are                  
 provisions for parents who cannot control their children.  She is             
 not sure whether that includes out of control children.  She feels            
 there is something that can be done, including turning them over to           
 a juvenile detention center.                                                  
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said while working on the bill he gave away, he                
 discovered there is a mechanism for people to emancipate themselves           
 from their child.  If the child is out of control, the parents can            
 essentially divorce their child in order to simplify the process.             
 Some parents need protection from malicious children.  That happens           
 rarely, but it does happen.                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE closed public testimony on the bill and asked for              
 the wish of the committee.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 116                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved HB 202 as amended with individual               
 recommendations and with accompanying fiscal notes.  There were no            
 objections and the bill passed.                                               
                                                                               

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