Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/10/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 69 - SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION DOUG WOOLIVER, STAFF TO THE HOUSE MAJORITY, spoke on behalf of HB 69's SPONSOR, SPEAKER RAMONA BARNES, who was unable to be present. He said that HB 69 would require sex offenders to register with the Alaska State Troopers, and HB 69 would cover not only those people convicted of sex offenses in Alaska, but also those convicted of sex offenses in other states. He noted that the bill was retroactive to cover crimes committed from five to ten years earlier, depending on the severity of the crime. Number 593 MR. WOOLIVER stated that the bill provided that new Alaska residents had 45 days in which to register with the state troopers. Current Alaska residents would have 30 days in which to register, he added. He said that Speaker Barnes requested that the committee look at shortening those time periods. He stated that when an offender registered, he or she would provide a name, address, place of employment, date of birth, crime for which they were convicted, date of conviction, place and court of conviction, length of sentence, fingerprints, photograph, driver's license number, and any aliases they had used. He said that with the exception of the fingerprints, photograph, driver's license number, and aliases, this registration information would be available to the public. Number 612 MR. WOOLIVER cited the tremendously high rate of sex offenses in Alaska. He said Alaska led the nation in child sexual abuse and was second in the nation in terms of sexual assaults in general. He commented that many people came to Alaska to get away from their pasts. He cited a California study that found a very high recidivism rate for sex offenders. Because of the high rate of sex offenses in Alaska and the high rate of recidivism, he said, it was important that information on the offenders be accessible to the public. Number 652 MR. WOOLIVER said currently, limited information on sex offenders was available. However, that was only in the case of job applicants or those who held jobs where they supervised or disciplined children. Mr. Wooliver noted HB 69 would greatly increase the availability of information on convicted sex offenders. Number 668 MR. WOOLIVER commented that HB 69 would aid in the apprehension of perpetrators. He said 18 states had sex offender registration laws in place, 11 of which had been enacted since 1985. Number 686 REP. GREEN asked how the law could be enforced when convicted sex offenders entered Alaska from other jurisdictions. Number 697 MR. WOOLIVER replied that HB 69 provided for penalties for not registering with the state troopers. He said a proposed change would tighten up the penalty section of the bill. Currently, he acknowledged, the law would be difficult to enforce; but it was a step in the right direction. Number 724 REP. GREEN asked why the photograph of a convicted sex offender would not be made public, along with much of the other registration information. Number 735 MR. WOOLIVER responded that the bill could be amended so as to make photographs public. He noted that there might be right to privacy concerns surrounding the public dissemination of photographs. Number 745 REP. GREEN asked if a court might strike down a law making photographs of convicted sex offenders public information. Number 748 MR. WOOLIVER expressed an opinion that the law might be less likely to stand up to a court challenge if it included the public dissemination of photographs of convicted sex offenders. CHAIRMAN PORTER mentioned Alaska's constitutional right to privacy. TAPE 93-11, SIDE B Number 000 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Wooliver why sex offenders should register for a limited amount of time (five or ten years), instead of for the rest of their lives. Number 022 MR. WOOLIVER responded that Speaker Barnes would not mind increasing the amount of time during which offenders were required to register. He said many states had lifetime registration requirements. The only way that an offender could be released from registration requirements in those states would be to petition the court. Number 031 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that representatives of the Departments of Public Safety and Corrections would address the committee later. Number 039 REP. PHILLIPS notified the committee that during a recent district teleconference her constituents had asked why new residents of Alaska were given such a lengthy period in which to register. Number 060 MR. WOOLIVER outlined the changes that had been made to HB 69 in the House State Affairs Committee. He called the members' attention to the last sentence on page 1 of the bill, which raised the penalty for failing to register for those who had been convicted of the more serious sex offenses. He also noted that the time periods in which offenders were given to register had been shortened from 45 days to 14 days for non-Alaska residents, and from 30 days to seven days for Alaska residents. He noted that parolees under the Interstate Compact on Probation and Parole program had seven days in which to register. Number 095 MR. WOOLIVER noted a change on page 3, section (c), which held that if an offender was unable to register with the Alaska State Troopers, he or she could register with a municipal police department. An earlier version of HB 69 had said that if an offender lived 50 miles or more from an Alaska State Trooper station, he or she could register with a municipal police department. He said the change had been made because state troopers were occasionally not in their stations for days at a time, as they were accompanying prisoners and performing other duties. Number 117 MR. WOOLIVER stated that a small, technical change had been made to the section of the bill pertaining to the Central Registry of Sex Offenders. Whereas an earlier version of HB 69 had said that the Alaska State Troopers would maintain the registry, the current work draft now provided that the Department of Public Safety would do that. Number 127 REP. KOTT asked Mr. Wooliver about the possibility of enacting a lifetime registration requirement, and of including offenses committed more than ten years prior to passage of HB 69. MR. WOOLIVER responded that as a practical matter, the state might only be able to go back a certain number of years due to the difficulty of accessing old records. Number 156 REP. KOTT asked Mr. Wooliver about a convicted sex offender who had served a jail sentence, successfully completed probation or parole, and was faced with a new requirement that he or she register with the state. He asked if HB 69 would be considered an "ex post facto" law. Number 166 MR. WOOLIVER replied that he did not believe that HB 69 was an ex post facto law. He said the prohibition against ex post facto laws meant that laws could not be passed that increased the penalty for a crime that had already been committed. He said that the courts, when determining whether a law violated the ex post facto provision, looked at whether the law was punitive or regulatory. If laws were punitive, then they received an ex post facto analysis. He said HB 69 was a regulatory action and therefore did not violate the prohibition of ex post facto laws. He added that changing the bill to require lifetime registration would not change that fact. MR. WOOLIVER noted that for HB 69 the registration requirement did not begin until the end of probation or parole. He said the law was retroactive, as were similar laws in other states. Number 202 REP. GREEN asked Mr. Wooliver to clarify how HB 69 was retroactive in relation to parole and probation periods. Number 210 MR. WOOLIVER commented that, as the bill was currently written, an offender who had committed a more serious sex offense eight years before and was required, under HB 69, to register for ten years, would be covered by the bill's provisions. However, an offender who had committed a crime requiring a ten-year registration period twelve years earlier would not be covered by HB 69. MR. WOOLIVER noted that if there was a lifetime registration period, there would be a question as to whether or not anyone ever convicted of a sex crime in another state would also be required to register. Number 224 REP. NORDLUND asked Mr. Wooliver if the misdemeanor crime of failing to register was an ex post facto situation. Number 233 MR. WOOLIVER replied that he did not believe so. Number 243 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Wooliver to ask HB 69's sponsor if she were opposed to any of the changes that the committee proposed to make to the bill. Number 246 COMMISSIONER LLOYD RUPP, from the DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, testified in support of HB 69, as amended. He stated that he supported lifetime registration for sex offenders. He commented on his background of having run a sex offender treatment program for three years. He said he had created a sex offender treatment program for the U. S. Marine Corps and had helped the Navy to develop its new sex offender treatment program. Number 250 COMMISSIONER RUPP mentioned that research had shown that, particularly in the case of pedophiles, for every known perpetration, another 150 were not reported. He noted that some sexual deviances were lifelong. For that reason, he said, he strongly supported lifetime registration. Number 283 COMMISSIONER RUPP said that research demonstrated that people who molested children often went on to commit other sex crimes. He reiterated the department's support for HB 69. Commissioner Rupp commented that sexual deviants had a lifetime problem, similar to alcoholics or drug addicts. He said HB 69 would send a strong signal that society recognized the lifetime nature of their problem and intended that the perpetrators also recognize that. Number 315 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Commissioner Rupp if he had ever come across a pedophile who had been rehabilitated. Number 320 COMMISSIONER RUPP replied that one should never bank on a sadistic, fixated pedophile. However, he said, some people who committed pedophilic acts could control their problem, in his opinion. He commented that in his personal experience he had never come across a rehabilitated pedophile. He noted that it did not hurt to register sex offenders and would aid law enforcement. Number 376 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER C.E. SWACKHAMMER, of the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, commented that his department supported HB 69 because of its deterrent effect and because it would aid law enforcement officials. He noted that the Alaska Chiefs of Police Association also supported HB 69. Number 388 REP. PHILLIPS asked Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer if an increase in registration period lengths would cause the department any difficulty. Number 394 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER replied that it would not cause any difficulty. Number 397 REP. PHILLIPS asked if Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) would register sex offenders. Number 401 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER responded that VPSOs would not register sex offenders, as they were not equipped with photography and fingerprinting equipment. He said HB 69 held that sex offenders could register with municipal police departments as well as state trooper stations because, in some communities, troopers were away from their stations for long periods of time. Number 415 REP. PHILLIPS asked Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer how sex offenders would be notified of their duty to register. Number 421 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER said the department planned to advertise the requirement through the Court System, the Department of Corrections, and the Division of Motor Vehicles. Number 423 REP. PHILLIPS asked if notification would be placed in newspapers and on the radio as well. Number 427 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER replied that he had not considered placing notices in the newspaper and on the radio. Number 429 REP. PHILLIPS said some people opposed HB 69 because they feared that it would encourage vigilantism. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER responded that he had not thought about the possibility of vigilantism. He added that much would depend on how the registration program information was disseminated. He said the purpose of the regulations was to ensure that the department properly dealt with Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act issues. Number 443 REP. PHILLIPS commented that one legislator had a constituency that was very concerned about the vigilante aspect of the bill. Number 447 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that one response to that constituency would be that people were being convicted of sex offenses in Alaska all the time. He stated that he doubted that vigilantism would start upon enactment of HB 69, given that so many opportunities for it had existed in the past. CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer would comment on possibly including a requirement that an offender provide a blood sample as part of the registration process. Number 463 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER commented that California required sex offenders to provide blood and saliva samples. He said he thought it would be helpful if a similar program were in place in Alaska as well. However, he said, that technology in the state crime lab was not yet sophisticated enough to allow DNA testing. He stated that the department should have the appropriate technology in place within two to three years. Number 475 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if the department would support HB 69's inclusion of language allowing the department to require blood and saliva samples from offenders when appropriate technology was available. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER said the department would support that. REP. KOTT asked if the department would support registration of anyone convicted of an unclassified felony. Number 486 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER replied that law enforcement did have the ability to do that, to some extent. He added that sometimes great volumes of data were a problem in and of themselves in that there was no appropriate way to deal with it all. Number 502 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if one opportunity for learning that an unregistered sex offender was in the state would be the normal course of records checks conducted by law enforcement officials. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER said that for new residents of Alaska it would be an opportunity. Number 512 REP. NORDLUND mentioned a situation in Anchorage in which neighbors had learned that a convicted sex offender had moved into the neighborhood. He said the neighbors were upset that police had not informed them that a convicted sex offender was in the neighborhood. He said that neighbors had found out about the sex offender because children had been lured into the house and found inappropriate pictures on the walls, which they reported to parents. REP. NORDLUND noted that neighbors contacted authorities and were finally able to pressure the man to move out of the neighborhood. He asked Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer how the neighbors would have found out that the man was a convicted sex offender. Also, he wanted to know if HB 69 could provide for notification of community officials when a sex offender moved into a neighborhood. Number 531 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER replied that neighbors could have looked at court records, which were public documents. Number 539 REP. NORDLUND asked how much of an improvement HB 69 was over what currently existed in law, given that HB 69 would not provide for notification of community officials. Number 542 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER commented that HB 69 was geared toward law enforcement, in terms of having a central registry of sex offenders. He said that the issue of information dissemination would be addressed in the regulations. He added that the regulations would be written so as to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and the Right to Privacy Act. Number 558 REP. KOTT asked if HB 69 would encourage defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges. Number 568 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER responded that he did not think HB 69 would change the rate of plea bargaining. TAPE 93-12, SIDE A Number 000 CINDY SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ALASKA NETWORK ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT, testified in support of HB 69. She said that it was rare for those in her business to engage in pro-active responses to the problems that they faced. She said the incidence of reported rape in Alaska had gone up 91 percent in the past two years. She added that there had been similar increases in child sexual abuse as well. MS. SMITH said that about 50 sex offenders were released every year from Alaska's prisons. In 1993, however, 100 offenders would be released, she said. She commented that most offenders were not treated in prison and many offenders would re-offend when released. MS. SMITH commented that for the most part, communities were unaware of who offenders were. She said HB 69 would provide access to that information for employers and concerned community members. She added that HB 69 would provide for more centralized data. Number 071 MS. SMITH noted her concern over the continued rise in sexual assault cases in Alaska. She said that for every victim of a sex offense, the state paid over and over again in terms of treatment for the victim, violent crime compensation, prosecution, and jail time. She said that sex offender treatment, in community models, encouraged the tracking of offenders, wherein an offender's employer, family, church members, et al, were informed of the offender's problem. She noted that this monitoring increased an offender's chances of not offending again. Number 106 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Ms. Smith if the increased rate of sex offenses was due in part to enhanced reporting, or if it was purely a higher number of offenses. MS. SMITH replied that she did not believe that the rise was due to enhanced reporting. She said that rates had been declining steadily until 1989, but then began to increase. Number 146 MARGOT KNUTH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF LAW'S CRIMINAL DIVISION, commented that the required registration period began when probation ended. Therefore, she said, for an unclassified, class A or class B felony sex offense, registration would be at least fifteen years. She noted that in the past, bills which increased the period of probation that could be ordered for offenders had been before the legislature. MS. KNUTH commented that she felt there were legal issues surrounding lifetime registration requirements. She said that she had not researched the issue, but knew that the Alaska Supreme Court sought to achieve a balance between the legitimate purpose of a statute versus the constitutionally required sentencing goal of rehabilitation of an offender. REP. NORDLUND asked if there might be sex offenders in the community who were not required to register because they were on probation. Number 201 MS. KNUTH replied that registration requirements began upon an offender's release from prison. However, she noted that the registration requirements set forth in HB 69 would not begin to run until probation had been completed. Number 215 CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the bill would be held in committee while additional changes were made to the Judiciary committee substitute for HB 69. He said the bill would come back before the committee when those changes had been made. Number 227 REP. KOTT commented that if HB 69 were to include lifetime registration requirements, he would like to see a fiscal note reflecting that change. Number 233 CHAIRMAN PORTER told committee members to contact Judiciary committee counsel, Gayle Horetski, if they had additional changes to recommend. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 2:39 p.m.