Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/12/1995 01:17 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 2 - BOOT CAMP FOR NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS                                   
 Number 650                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked the sponsor of HB 2, Representative Willis to           
 speak on his bill.                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS, Sponsor of HB 2, said in 1994 he                    
 introduced legislation relating to boot camps for nonviolent first-           
 time adult offenders.  He stated the bill before the committee is             
 an updated and final version of that bill.  It includes the ideas             
 of those interested in the boot camp concept, and addresses the               
 need of the Department of Corrections with regard to this proposed            
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said he feels that placing nonviolent first-            
 time felony and misdemeanor offenders in a prison setting is not              
 the best way to accomplish rehabilitation for that offender.  He              
 said providing an alternative to prison time and an opportunity to            
 learn discipline and acceptable behavior will offer these offenders           
 a chance to avoid further encounters with the law.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said, "The bill before you would offer the              
 boot camp as an alternative program for first-time convicted felons           
 or misdemeanants under the age of 26.  Individuals convicted of               
 crimes, such as homicide, assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses and            
 offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon would not be eligible           
 for this option."  He went on to say, "The emphasis here is on                
 nonviolent first-time offenders.  At least 24 states operate boot             
 camp programs.  As can be expected, each state offers the program             
 to different groups.  For example, in 1993, Virginia's program was            
 limited to nonviolent new felony offenders 24 years of age or                 
 under, and did not allow felons convicted of murder, manslaughter,            
 kidnapping, sexual assault, and so on to participate in the                   
 program.  Massachusetts' program, in 1993, was for male offenders             
 under the age of 40."                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated he had submitted to the committee                
 various articles and studies concerning boot camp programs.  He               
 said he believed a boot camp program could help to address many               
 problems from prison overcrowding to recidivism rates.  He went on            
 to say a boot camp program has the potential of providing many long           
 term benefits and he would urge positive consideration of this                
 bill.  Representative Willis said he had submitted to the committee           
 a draft amendment to this bill, which was requested by the                    
 Department of Corrections.  The amendment would give the department           
 another tool it needs to make the program successful.  He                     
 continued, under the current proposal, individuals who successfully           
 complete the boot camp program might have to be placed back into              
 the general population to await parole hearing.  Representative               
 Willis said this amendment would allow a pre-release furlough while           
 awaiting the hearing.  In his opinion, placing a person who has               
 successfully completed the boot camp program back into the general            
 prison population would not be beneficial to the person involved in           
 the program.                                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS related that since he appeared before the               
 State Affairs Committee, he also submitted a newer version of the             
 fiscal plan and Mr. Jerry Shriner of the Department of Corrections,           
 is here to speak to the new fiscal note.  Also, since this bill was           
 before the State Affairs Committee, Mr. Shriner has been to                   
 Washington and conferred at some meetings on this particular issue.           
 Representative Willis said he hesitated bringing this back to the             
 committee until Mr. Shriner returned to Alaska so this committee              
 would have the benefit of his knowledge.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said if it is the desire of the committee, he           
 would relinquish his seat to Mr. Shriner.                                     
 Number 725                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE told Representative Willis that he did support           
 his legislation, as he did last time, although the idea of boot               
 camps to him, would involve younger offenders, and yet you are                
 including people up to the age of 26.  He asked if that was to                
 allow a young person to be sentenced and serve out a sentence, or             
 would Representative Willis envision a 26-year-old person being               
 assigned to boot camp.                                                        
 Number 730                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS answered as he understood it, any person                
 convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, 26 years of age or younger,             
 that is in the hands of the Department of Corrections, could be               
 eligible for this program, but it would be under the age of 26.               
 Number 745                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if, when they reach 26 they are not                
 removed from the program?  There's not an upper age limit.                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS replied you mean if they happened to be 26              
 when they went into the program and they had a birthday after?                
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said if they were 20 when they went in and               
 they had a seven year sentence.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS responded that boot camp is only 150 days.              
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, okay.  If they were 26 and had a                   
 birthday the day after sentencing.                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS answered he would assume they would complete            
 the 150-day program.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked for clarification on the fact the                  
 prisoners are only eligible if they are under 26.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS answered yes.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he thought he heard him say 40.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated they changed that back to 26.  He said           
 some states do allow an upper age limit.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY understood they have to be 25 years of age to            
 enter the program.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said they can't be more than 25.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS corrected this, saying they can't be more               
 than 26 years old.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said for the information of the committee he thinks           
 the age 25 is the youthful offender (indisc.) the federal programs.           
 CHAIRMAN PORTER welcomed Mr. Shriner back from Washington.                    
 CORRECTIONS, gave a little background for the committee.  He began,           
 "Boot camp programs have been around in various states for a number           
 of years, since the mid- to early 80s.  Several programs have                 
 developed and there were problems with some of the earlier                    
 programs.  The primary problems had to do with the abuse of                   
 inmates, either a direct or indirect result of the emphasis on the            
 discipline and physical training that goes into these programs.               
 Much of that has been taken care of through proper staff training             
 supervision, study of the programs and the way they operate,                  
 careful hiring practices."  Mr. Shriner said he is convinced, after           
 talking to many of the people from the 26 states that have                    
 programs, that they can be operated humanely, safely, and                     
 effectively.  He stated that was his biggest concern so he was glad           
 to gain that part of the information.                                         
 MR. SHRINER related he felt he should address why the fiscal note             
 was changed.  Again, it has to do with people who have operated               
 these programs.  It was pretty clear that all of these programs               
 operate as minimum security facilities.  In the original fiscal               
 note, it was said the program would be designed with facility                 
 issues, and you have program by facility, aimed to meet the needs             
 of minimum custody prisoners.  He continued saying all of the                 
 programs he really would take a look at are minimum custody                   
 facilities, and staff report essentially every case of discipline             
 problems, escapes, violence between inmates or by inmates against             
 staff are practically unheard of.                                             
 MR. SHRINER said that his philosophy and the experience in the                
 normal prison facilities, the combination of hard work, the                   
 discipline that is imposed from the time they are there, all of               
 these programs carefully select inmates.  They have that option.              
 The average prison does not have to pick and chose which ones you             
 want to work with.  He said all of those things combined make these           
 relatively low risk groups of individuals with whom the Department            
 of Corrections works.  He stated the point of the program is that             
 in terms of designing a facility, you can design one with lower               
 security ratings.  You don't need as much fence.  You don't need as           
 many electronic gauges.  There's a lot of things you don't have to            
 put into these kinds of programs that you would have to put into a            
 medium security facility, for example.                                        
 MR. SHRINER related respective to the amendment that was proposed             
 having to do with furloughs, the original legislation would allow             
 an early parole for those folks who had successfully completed the            
 program.  He said one of the things that again virtually every                
 state that has these programs has found, is that a big part of it             
 is because the program moves rapidly.  It's 150 to 180 days in most           
 states, and a lot happens in that period of time.  To make this               
 thing happen requires a fair amount of reinforcement.  Mr. Shriner            
 continued much of the effects of 150 or 180 day programs would be             
 lost if the person then had to go back to a regular prison                    
 population and wait what would be a typical 120 days from the time            
 they successfully complete the program until the time they can get            
 a hearing before the parole board to be granted parole.                       
 MR. SHRINER said what the department suggested to the sponsor was             
 to allow the Commissioner of Corrections the option of granting               
 furloughs to those individuals who successfully complete the                  
 program because that is something that could be done the last week,           
 or the last two weeks, when it was obvious the person was going to            
 successfully complete, they could be granted a furlough in a                  
 somewhat less structured environment, but still under 24-hour                 
 supervision, and they could stay there during that time the parole            
 hearing was being processed.  Mr. Shriner stated the Department of            
 Corrections supports that and believes it is an important part of             
 making the program function effectively.                                      
 MR. SHRINER stated he supposed he had to talk about money since it            
 is related to the fiscal note, but the crime legislation that was             
 passed in 1994, federal crime legislation, set aside $24.5 million,           
 which, at this point, is only being dispensed for two things.  He             
 said they are making small $50,000 grants to states to do criminal            
 justice planning, and grants of up to $2 million to states that are           
 either renovating facilities or building new facilities out of                
 which they intend to operate boot camps.  Mr. Shriner went on to              
 say that in legislation that is through the House, and will be                
 before the Senate later on in May, there will be somewhere between            
 $6 billion and $10 billion over the next five years dispensed in              
 all probability in block grants to states, and much of that money             
 will be aimed at what is known as "violent offender incarceration."           
 Mr. Shriner said the point of it is to, in some way, assist states            
 in making sure there is room in their prisons to incarcerate                  
 violent offenders.                                                            
 MR. SHRINER said we are somewhat fortunate in this state in that              
 despite the fact that the prisons are overcrowded, he doesn't think           
 there have been any violent offenders put out on the streets for              
 lack of space for them to be incarcerated.  This is not true of               
 other states.  Georgia is an extreme example where a violent                  
 offender may get ten years and end up serving five or six days.  He           
 said they simply did not have room for people at the inn.  Mr.                
 Shriner said the point of the legislation and the reason that they            
 will be not only providing capital money as they are now, but will            
 in all probability be providing operating money for boot camps and            
 other kinds of alternative sanction programs, is for precisely that           
 reason.  He stated it is not that Congress has suddenly taken a               
 turn to intermediate sanctions.  Congress has said we want violent            
 offenders incarcerated and in order to do that we are willing to do           
 some things we might not otherwise advance.  For example, boot                
 camps, community work service programs, and all kinds of                      
 intermediate sanctions.                                                       
 MR. SHRINER said the reason he was telling the committee this is to           
 say that the fiscal note shows a capital reduction in what was                
 originally projected as a $5 million capital investment.  The                 
 Department of Corrections is now saying it's $3 million, in large             
 part because we believe we can build a facility with less security,           
 and, in fact, may be able to build it in connection, not physically           
 connected to, on the grounds of some other facility such as the               
 minimum security facility at Palmer, at Wildwood, or some other               
 place like that where there is some space and possibly some other             
 resources to apply to reduce the costs.                                       
 MR. SHRINER stated in terms of operating costs, the only difference           
 on the new fiscal note is the department applied more recent data             
 with regard to the cost to operate a prison bed in this state than            
 he had at the time he followed the original fiscal note, so that              
 reduced the costs somewhat.  He said at the same time, he applied             
 5 percent inflation factor that the...                                        
 TAPE 95-46, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 MR. SHRINER said he thought that explained the difference in the              
 fiscal note and the department's need for the furloughs.                      
 Number 070                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated Chairman Kott will kill him if he's late               
 again to one of his meetings, so he asked the Vice Chair to take              
 over.  He did have two questions first.  Are there enough prisoners           
 left in our system to make this a viable program?  He pointed out             
 they were cutting out violent offenders and it seemed to him most             
 of the activity done is already cut out.                                      
 MR. SHRINER answered that it is a close call, frankly.  He said the           
 department was concerned about two things in the bill.  The                   
 Department of Corrections would just as soon the age went to 30               
 years, for example, rather than 25.  The first offender also limits           
 that pool considerably.  You could easily have a second offender,             
 a second burglar for example, the person could be 21- 22-years-old,           
 have a second burglary, maybe has three or four years to serve.  He           
 may be a good candidate for this program, but would be excluded.              
 Mr. Shriner said that would increase the pool of people that are              
 available.  The short answer to Chairman Porter's question is, the            
 last time I looked there were some 233 individuals who are in                 
 minimum custody that are 25 years and under.  He said he has not              
 sorted out which ones of those are violent offenders.  He said he             
 suspects there are perhaps 100 of those who would really qualify              
 for this program and what they are looking at is probably a 50-bed            
 facility.  So, the short answer is yes, I believe there is.                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said he didn't see this the last time through, that           
 being the successful completion of this would put someone in the              
 position of the discretionary parole.  He asked if this would put             
 them in the position regardless of a determined sentence that they            
 MR. SHRINER responded that it was his understanding that it would,            
 but he is not an attorney so he will pass on that, as he is not               
 CHAIRMAN PORTER took his leave and turned the meeting over to Vice            
 Chairman Joe Green.                                                           
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any other questions of Mr.            
 Shriner.  He stated that Mr. Shriner had made a tremendous change             
 on the fiscal note, and he wondered if, given another two weeks,              
 Mr. Shriner could get that to where they would pay us?                        
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if it would be fair to say that the                
 Department of Corrections is estimating about $20,000 per prison              
 bed, that would be $40,000 per year per prison bed, but about                 
 $20,000 per prisoner because they would be eligible for parole                
 after they completed this?  You're talking about $2 million and 100           
 bed years.                                                                    
 MR. SHRINER replied, 120 people.  He stated the current rate is               
 $107 a day average across the system.  If they are in there 150               
 days, yes, the cost for one of those individuals for the 150-day              
 program is going to be about $15,000.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY remarked that it was going to be the same cost           
 as the existing programs.                                                     
 MR. SHRINER answered that, in fact, the cost per day is more in               
 existing programs.  In other words, in low level security the                 
 average cost may be $107.  The people in this program may otherwise           
 be in a facility that operated at a lower cost where security is              
 lower.  He said on the other hand, they are only in this program              
 for half as long perhaps.  The other end of that is virtually                 
 everyone who operates these programs will tell you that it is not             
 enough to simply put someone through 150 or 180 days in a boot camp           
 program.  Mr. Shriner stated you have to provide a variety of other           
 services such as counseling, education, and intensive supervision             
 along with it and after it.  He said the cost of probation and                
 parole is higher for this group of people than for somebody getting           
 out of prison after two years.  Mr. Shriner related these states              
 have found when you tie the whole project together, you're probably           
 spending less on the boot camp people than on a normal imprisonment           
 simply because you've shortened up the prison time so much.  He               
 said the net effect is a smaller cost, but if you only look at the            
 daily cost it looks more expensive.                                           
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any more questions.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY inquired about the recidivism rate for these            
 MR. SHRINER stated the recidivism rate in well-run programs is                
 better although it's not like half.  It's like 2 or 3 percent and             
 some of the programs have dropped 5 or 6 percent.  It can be fairly           
 significant, but the services have to be provided that go along               
 with it and do a good job of it.  He said it's not a guarantee by             
 any means.                                                                    
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any other questions of Mr.            
 Shriner or the sponsor.                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE remarked that he didn't think 5 percent                  
 recidivism rate was a good rate.                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he thought the recidivism rate differed             
 by 5 percent.                                                                 
 MR. SHRINER said that was correct.                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated if the recidivism rate was 5 percent,             
 there would be no prison population.                                          
 MR. SHRINER agreed with Representative Bunde, but stated most                 
 states run 20 to 30 percent recidivism rate.                                  
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked what the wish of the committee was, if              
 there were no further questions.                                              
 Number 200                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move amendment one, which               
 states:  page 1, line 3, following "eligible for", insert                     
 "furloughs and; page 2, following line 2, insert a new bill section           
 to read: "*Sec. 3.  AS 33.30.111 is amended by adding a new                   
 subsection to read: (g) A prisoner who has successfully completed             
 the boot camp program under AS 33.30.182 is eligible for a                    
 prerelease furlough under this section under regulations adopted by           
 the commissioner under AS 33.30.101 regardless of whether the                 
 prisoner has served the portion of the term required under (d) of             
 this section."; renumber the following bill sections accordingly.             
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if that was the one dated 3/27/95?                  
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE affirmed the date of 3/27/95, page 1, line 3.            
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Representative Willis if he would like to           
 speak to the amendment.                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied that the amendment had been spoken to,           
 but not passed yet.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated that would give the Department of                
 Corrections the tool it needs to make the program successful.  It             
 would allow a prerelease furlough while awaiting the hearing.  He             
 said that is the thrust of that particular amendment.                         
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there was any discussion or objection            
 to the amendment.  Hearing none, the amendment passed.  (Indisc. --           
 static on tape).                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked where does it say (indisc. --                
 static) anyone who is on their second prison term wouldn't qualify?           
 MR. SHRINER said page 3, line 23.                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said he must have misunderstood the                
 testimony because he thought only first offenders would be able to            
 MR. SHRINER replied that he may have misspoken himself as this                
 issue was discussed and what it actually said was "cannot actually            
 have participated in a boot camp program" and then the other                  
 conditions for eligibility.                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move CSHB 2(JUD).                       
 VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN (indisc. - static) asked if there was any                 
 objections.  Hearing none, CSHB 2(JUD) was moved out of committee.            

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