Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

03/13/2018 03:15 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:19:49 PM Start
03:22:16 PM HB325
04:14:31 PM Indirect Expenditure Hearing
05:13:22 PM HB400
05:37:09 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 325 PRISONER COMPUTER USE; REENTRY SERVICES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Indirect Expenditure Hearing TELECONFERENCED
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 310 MARRIAGE AND MINIMUM AGE FOR MARRIAGE TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled but Not Heard
+= HB 400 FEES FOR FIRE PREVENTION MEASURES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
          HB 325-PRISONER COMPUTER USE; REENTRY SERVICES                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:22:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the first  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 325,  "An Act relating to computer use by                                                               
prisoners;  and   relating  to   an  exemption  from   the  State                                                               
Procurement  Code for  contracts for  rehabilitation and  reentry                                                               
services."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
3:22:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEAN  WILLIAMS, Commissioner,  Department  of Corrections  (DOC),                                                               
explained  that  the  community residential  center  (CRC)  -  or                                                               
halfway house - model has been  in existence for 20 years with no                                                               
changes.   The  CRCs are  where inmates  go who  are exiting  the                                                               
prison  system; some  are  on furlough;  some  are on  electronic                                                               
monitoring; they  are trying to find  a job and a  place to live.                                                               
He stated  that currently there  is one option for  where inmates                                                               
can live while  transitioning from prison to home  or to wherever                                                               
they will live; and that is within the CRC halfway house model.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS stated that the  problem with the CRC model                                                               
is that there has been a  60-65 percent recidivism rate in Alaska                                                               
for the  past 15-20 years  despite changes in the  prison system.                                                               
He asserted that when people don't have  a place to live or a job                                                               
when they  have finished their  sentences, the chance  of failure                                                               
is  high.   He  said that  almost half  of  these failures  occur                                                               
within the first six months of  release.  This occurs because the                                                               
process of  transitioning from a  "hard cell" environment  to one                                                               
in  which the  person is  productive  must have  a strategic  and                                                               
stepdown plan; Alaska does not have that.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS said that  another reason the halfway house                                                               
model  is  fundamentally "broken"  is  the  "walk-away" rate,  or                                                               
escape  rate.    Every  time someone  escapes  from  the  halfway                                                               
facility, it  could result in  a felony  charge.  In  2016, there                                                               
were 222  escapes from halfway  houses; under his  leadership and                                                               
with the  assistance of staff, that  number was reduced to  83 in                                                               
2017;  however,  every one  of  those  escapes represents  a  new                                                               
potential felony charge  against the person who  walked away from                                                               
the halfway house.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  related  a  third  reason  for  a  broken                                                               
system:    the cost  of  the  CRC  halfway  house model  is  very                                                               
expensive.   He recommended that  the committee members  not look                                                               
at the  budgeted rate  for a  halfway house bed  but look  at the                                                               
actual cost.   He offered to share the breakout  of the cost with                                                               
the  committee.    He  gave  examples:   at  Cordova  Center  [in                                                               
Anchorage], the  bed rate is $117  per day per person;  at Tundra                                                               
Center  in Bethel,  the  rate  is $312  per  day  per person;  at                                                               
Northstar  Center in  Fairbanks, the  rate  is $176  per day  per                                                               
person; at Seaside  Center in Nome, the rate is  $145 per day per                                                               
person; and at  Glacier Manor Half-Way House in  Juneau, the rate                                                               
is $206  per day per  person.  He concluded  that it is  a costly                                                               
model, which is the reason he is looking for innovations.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  continued by relating other  problems with                                                               
the model:   the inmates don't want to go  to the halfway houses;                                                               
it is difficult to fill the  beds due to problems at the facility                                                               
such  as  drug  trafficking;  and  there  isn't  enough  for  the                                                               
residents  to do.    He maintained  that without  work  to do  or                                                               
places to go, the temptation is to escape or use drugs.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:27:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS passed the gavel to Vice Chair LeDoux.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS gave  a final  cause  contributing to  the                                                               
[halfway   house]   model   being  broken:      the   procurement                                                               
requirements that  DOC is currently  under.  He pointed  out that                                                               
the  request  for  proposal  (RFP)  for  DOC  is  150  pages;  it                                                               
represents the  boilerplate procurement procedures;  and anything                                                               
over  $100,000  requires  a   very  cumbersome  and  bureaucratic                                                               
process.   He maintained that  the places where he  wants inmates                                                               
to  go when  exiting  prison are  smaller  locations and  smaller                                                               
facilities.  People  do much better in those  locations, and they                                                               
are cheaper.   He referred to testimony during  the 2/13/18 House                                                               
State Affairs  Standing Committee meeting from  operators of some                                                               
of those small places.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS summarized by saying  that it is his desire                                                               
that the committee members understand  the scope of the issue and                                                               
why  there are  problems with  the  current halfway  houses.   He                                                               
mentioned that he appreciated the  discussion and concerns raised                                                               
during  the 2/13/18  committee meeting  hearing.   He  maintained                                                               
that he is requesting an  exception to the procurement rules, not                                                               
for the entire  department but just for a small  amount of money,                                                               
$17-18 million, to allow him to pilot a different model.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  stated  that   the  model  in  place  has                                                               
benefited  the  DOC contractor  for  20  years, and  millions  of                                                               
dollars are  "on the line."   He emphasized that  this initiative                                                               
in no  way is meant  to disrespect the  DOC contractor:   this is                                                               
the contract  DOC requested; it is  the bid DOC awarded;  and the                                                               
contractor provided  the service.   He maintained that  DOC could                                                               
do better.   He is requesting  to be allowed an  exception to the                                                               
procurement  rules -  if  not  for $17-18  million,  then for  $5                                                               
million  -  to  try  a  pilot  project  to  demonstrate  improved                                                               
results.   He said,  "Put requirements  on me  if you  must about                                                               
where that  money was spent and  how that was put  together."  He                                                               
reiterated that  the current  model is not  working, and  that is                                                               
why he is making this request to the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:30:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   referred  to   Commissioner  Williams's                                                               
testimony that  there are drugs  inside the halfway houses.   She                                                               
asked if  there is  legal action  that could  be taken  against a                                                               
contractor if drugs are allowed inside the halfway house.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  answered  that  the  contractors  are  as                                                               
deeply concerned about  this issue as is he.   He maintained that                                                               
the problem lies in the halfway house model:  it houses                                                                         
 50  people with  no common  purpose;  some are  using drugs  and                                                               
bring  them into  the  halfway house;  some  are recovering  drug                                                               
addicts that don't  want to have drugs around.   He asserted that                                                               
the contractors  are not allowing  the presence of drugs  but are                                                               
fighting it like he is.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON   expressed    her   concern   regarding                                                               
establishing a halfway house in  a neighborhood without notice to                                                               
the   neighborhood  and   the  possibility   that  the   proposed                                                               
legislation would  allow the requirement  of public notice  to be                                                               
circumvented.    She  added  that  halfway  house  residents  are                                                               
criminals   and    putting   them   into    neighborhoods   would                                                               
understandably make residents unhappy.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  replied  that  the  proposed  legislation                                                               
would  not  preclude  any   local  ordinances,  requirements,  or                                                               
controls regarding  the locations of  the halfway houses.   There                                                               
would  be   discussions  at  the  municipal   level,  prospective                                                               
providers would be heard, as well  as objections, and it would be                                                               
a community  decision.  He  stated that another  consideration is                                                               
that the  residents of the  halfway houses are being  released to                                                               
the  communities  regardless.    He  offered  that  his  proposal                                                               
addresses a  choice:  either  an inmate  will spend the  last six                                                               
months of his/her  sentence in a halfway house with  a 65 percent                                                               
recidivism  rate  upon release  due  to  insecure employment  and                                                               
housing; or the  inmate will live in a  local, innovative housing                                                               
unit that is smaller, under  the control of local ordinances, but                                                               
where escapes  and drugs are less  likely.  He added  that people                                                               
in  the smaller  locations  have problems,  but  there are  fewer                                                               
problems.  There are many more  problems in the large places with                                                               
50-100 men,  who have  nothing in common;  some want  to continue                                                               
trafficking in drugs and some want to get well.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:35:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  expressed  his  concern  that  if  halfway                                                               
houses are placed in communities  with no economic opportunities,                                                               
an  inmate who  was not  productive before  prison, would  not be                                                               
productive  upon  release  even  if   he/she  was  in  a  smaller                                                               
residential  facility.   He  offered that  if  procurement is  an                                                               
issue, it  could be addressed  administratively.  He  referred to                                                               
the  communities -  Bethel, Cordova,  and Nome  - and  questioned                                                               
what could be done in a  halfway facility - whether it housed six                                                               
or  sixty  men  -  that  would  result  in  the  residents  being                                                               
productive.     He maintained  that there  are drugs  in prisons,                                                               
hospitals, and schools;  the size of the facility  would not make                                                               
a  difference; if  the  residents  are using  drugs,  then it  is                                                               
impossible to keep  the drugs out of the facility.   He concluded                                                               
that he  is unable  to make  the connections  between procurement                                                               
codes, smaller living facilities,  and the type of rehabilitation                                                               
that Commissioner Williams is seeking.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS replied that  research shows that for peer-                                                               
oriented returning  citizens, who have  a common issue  that they                                                               
are  working on  together, a  six-bed facility  is better  than a                                                               
sixty-bed facility.  He described the larger halfway houses:                                                                    
sixty people housed  in one place; four to six  people to a room;                                                               
varied sleeping  and employment schedules; and  residents who are                                                               
not  working.    He  stated  that they  are  a  "hodge-podge"  of                                                               
individuals who don't have "a lot pulling together."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS   said  that   the  reason   that  smaller                                                               
locations  work  better is  because  the  residents support  each                                                               
other;  they  help  each  other  find jobs;  and  they  are  held                                                               
accountable by a  house parent.  He said that  this model is used                                                               
in  Norway; the  recidivism rate  is 25  percent.   He maintained                                                               
that  the success  in that  country is  not just  because of  the                                                               
money that is spent on  prison treatment programs.  Their prisons                                                               
are not that  much better that those of the  U.S., although there                                                               
are a few things they do better.   He said, "What they are better                                                               
at is how they  step people down."  The prisoners  start out at a                                                               
maximum-security facility; they work their  way out; they go into                                                               
a halfway  house in downtown Oslo  with a maximum of  15-20 beds;                                                               
and they  all have jobs.   He continued by saying  that finishing                                                               
one's  prison  sentence in  one  of  these  halfway houses  is  a                                                               
privilege; the residents  all have a lot to lose.   He reiterated                                                               
that  the research  on  the success  of  the small  peer-oriented                                                               
facilities  is  very clear;  and  the  operators of  these  small                                                               
facilities have testified that the results are good.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS mentioned  a facility  in the  Kenai area:                                                               
it  is a  faith-based organization;  there are  three individuals                                                               
just out of prison at the  facility; the operator is helping them                                                               
to secure  jobs and "keep  on track";  and the individuals  go to                                                               
Narcotics  Anonymous Alcoholics  Anonymous (NAAA)  meetings.   He                                                               
maintained that the operator is  barely able to keep the facility                                                               
operating.  He  stated, "It's all on a shoestring.   It's amazing                                                               
the  results."    He  asked  to  be  given  the  opportunity  and                                                               
flexibility  to pilot  this initiative,  because he  sees already                                                               
that it is working.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  commented that he  has put many of  the men                                                               
whom Commissioner Williams  referenced to work and  has seen very                                                               
limited success.   He said that the men worked  for a while; they                                                               
did  very  well; they  were  hard-working  and smart;  they  were                                                               
happier than they had ever been;  and they were making more money                                                               
than they had  ever made.  He stated that  after about 30-60 days                                                               
of good  paychecks, they don't  make it  to work on  Monday; then                                                               
lose  more  days   of  work;  then  don't  show   up  again;  and                                                               
Representative   Knopp  gets   a   phone  call   that  they   are                                                               
incarcerated.  He maintained that he  is not as optimistic as the                                                               
faith-based  [organization] that  is doing  this work  every day.                                                               
He conceded  that there have  been a  few successes with  the men                                                               
being actively involved with the church.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:41:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  referred to  sixty men  in a  halfway house                                                               
with ten  units and  six people to  a unit.   He conceded  that a                                                               
small  housing  unit  offers  a more  normal  lifestyle  for  the                                                               
residents  but  suggested that  there  would  be efficiencies  in                                                               
having 60  men under one  roof; having  the men in  ten different                                                               
properties would  be very labor intensive  and require additional                                                               
oversight, administration, and management.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  responded that  the larger  facility might                                                               
be operationally  efficient; however, it  is not economical.   He                                                               
said  that  the   larger  facilities  are  very   costly  due  to                                                               
requirements regarding  cameras, doors, staffing, and  many other                                                               
"hard" costs.   He reiterated  that he  has broken out  the costs                                                               
and can demonstrate the actual cost of the beds.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS relayed  that the  other consideration  is                                                               
that the  failure rate is  high [for  the large facilities].   He                                                               
maintained   that   the   smaller  nonprofits   are   better   at                                                               
transitioning inmates  back into  society:  these  facilities are                                                               
in smaller  peer-oriented communities; the facilities  are run by                                                               
well-intentioned  and seasoned  people  who are  in recovery  and                                                               
have  been  for  five  to  ten  years;  the  involvement  of  the                                                               
operators  in   helping  people  reenter  society   is  not  only                                                               
different, but better.  He explained  that inmates do not want to                                                               
go to halfway  houses, and their issues and  concerns about going                                                               
to halfway houses are "real."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  expressed  his belief  that  the  current                                                               
halfway house model is the  cornerstone of the failure to control                                                               
the high recidivism  rate; and his staff is convinced  of this as                                                               
well.  He said that when asked  why he is not putting more people                                                               
in halfway houses,  he responds that there is a  problem with the                                                               
model;  the  model  was  developed   for  relief  for  population                                                               
control; it  is no longer  used for that  purpose but as  a step-                                                               
down unit.   He summarized that the easiest course  of action for                                                               
him  is to  do nothing;  however, continuing  to follow  the same                                                               
failed model after  20 years will not  produce different results.                                                               
He stated that his job is  to bring problems to the forefront and                                                               
attack them with  new solutions.  He asked the  committee for its                                                               
help and for any suggestions it might offer.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:45:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  stated that  his principle objection  to HB                                                               
325 is  bypassing the procurement  guidelines.  He  expressed his                                                               
belief  that   there  are  administrative  remedies,   which  the                                                               
Department of  Law (DOL) could  provide.  He offered  that absent                                                               
the  procurement waiver  proposed by  HB 325,  a competitive  bid                                                               
document could  be drafted  by DOC that  defines exactly  what is                                                               
wanted.  He expressed that  Commissioner Williams appears to have                                                               
a very  clear idea  of what  he wants for  DOC and  that it  is a                                                               
model that  Representative Birch supports.   Representative Birch                                                               
offered  his belief  that  there are  people  willing to  operate                                                               
small halfway houses  who could meet the  standard established by                                                               
DOC, and the  competitive bid process would work.   He maintained                                                               
that  the state  gets  into trouble  when  it waives  procurement                                                               
guidelines; it has at times had a poor track in that area.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:47:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   WOOL  expressed   that   he  understands   being                                                               
intimidated by a  ream of paper with requirements.   He commented                                                               
that  the halfway  house model  is  broken, as  evidenced by  the                                                               
recidivism  rates,  and the  state  should  not allow  "some  old                                                               
methodology  of 100  pages of  procurement" stop  it from  trying                                                               
something  new.   He  mentioned  that  he  spoke to  Kara  Nelson                                                               
[Director, Haven  House Juneau] who testified  during the hearing                                                               
on  HB 325  [during the  House State  Affairs Standing  Committee                                                               
meeting of 2/13/18].   He referred to the  public television [360                                                               
North]   documentary,  [entitled   "Inside  Out   Leaving  Prison                                                               
Behind"];  he  recommended that  the  committee  members see  the                                                               
documentary.  He repeated the  question he asked Ms. Nelson after                                                               
the  meeting,  which  was:     Haven  House  is  operating  well;                                                               
therefore, what is the problem?                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  replied that the  scope of the  problem is                                                               
expecting someone  from Haven House to  work through an RFP.   He                                                               
said that  he appreciates the  suggestion to shorten the  RFP but                                                               
maintained that he doesn't know how to  do that.  Even if the RFP                                                               
is soliciting  a proposal for a  six-bed facility, if the  bid is                                                               
for over $100,000, the entire process must still be followed.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS stated that he is  working on a "Plan B" if                                                               
HB 325 doesn't  pass.  He maintained that there  is a reason that                                                               
the small  facility operators  don't apply  and expend  the great                                                               
effort.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  said that he  learned [from Ms.  Nelson] the                                                               
state can't  pay Haven  House to  house inmates  transitioning to                                                               
life  outside, because  the organization  has  not fulfilled  the                                                               
procurement obligation; Haven House  is operating on a volunteer,                                                               
nonprofit, donation basis;  and it is not getting  money from the                                                               
state.   He  mentioned that  the  state is  paying the  Northstar                                                               
Center in Fairbanks, $176 per day  per person.  He added that the                                                               
center is  across the  street from his  business; the  center has                                                               
"walk-aways",  but that  doesn't  impact him  because they  don't                                                               
stay in  the area.  He  mentioned that in the  neighborhood where                                                               
he lives, there are a couple  group homes for troubled youth, and                                                               
he doesn't really notice them either.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL maintained  that  he likes  the Haven  House                                                               
model as  a method of  transitioning prisoners to  functioning on                                                               
the outside world.   He asserted that he does  not agree with the                                                               
statement,  "Because  they're  once  prisoners,  they're  forever                                                               
deemed unproductive,  and you can  never get them  functioning in                                                               
society."    He  stated  that  he  knows  people  who  have  been                                                               
incarcerated  and are  now out  of prison  and functioning  well.                                                               
There are  different reasons for  people to  go to jail;  not all                                                               
are destined to a life  of nonproductivity; people can be helped,                                                               
as  Norway has  demonstrated.    He said  that  he believes  that                                                               
downsizing and allowing for closer  interactions is a good model.                                                               
He said  that he applauds  Commissioner Williams for  exploring a                                                               
different model;  and he  supports circumventing  the procurement                                                               
codes to  allow for a  limited pilot  project.  He  said, "What's                                                               
the hurt in trying, because we're  doing pretty poorly as it is?"                                                               
He mentioned the expense of  one person supervising six residents                                                               
but maintained that there is a  high cost associated with a 60-70                                                               
percent recidivism  rate, that  is, the  added expense  of public                                                               
safety, court, and prison.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:52:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice  Chair LeDoux  stated  that before  supporting  HB 325,  she                                                               
wants  to  hear someone  from  the  Department of  Administration                                                               
(DOA) say  that there is  no way for  smaller projects to  have a                                                               
fast track or "lighter" procurement  policy.  She maintained that                                                               
if there  is no way,  then that is a  problem.  She  offered that                                                               
rather than  address this problem on  a department-by-department,                                                               
project-by-project  basis, there  should  be a  mandate that  the                                                               
administration   adopt   realistic   procurement  codes.      She                                                               
maintained  that   she  supports  the  model   that  Commissioner                                                               
Williams has  presented; however, she  claimed that she  wants to                                                               
make  sure there  is  no way  the  change could  be  made in  the                                                               
procurement code.   She  stated that she  would rather  spend her                                                               
legislative  time  on  something   that  resulted  in  a  simpler                                                               
procurement  code so  that the  requests from  departments didn't                                                               
come  in one  by one  and each  need separate  legislation.   She                                                               
offered  that  projects  under  a certain  amount  could  have  a                                                               
streamlined procurement process.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS   responded  by  saying  that   for  under                                                               
$100,000, there is  a fast track; however, that  amount is spread                                                               
out between three to five years.   He gave an explanation using a                                                               
hypothetical situation:   DOC signs a contract  with Haven House;                                                               
it awards  Haven House  $50 per night  per individual;  there are                                                               
four to five  people who are still serving sentences  but are now                                                               
housed  at Haven  House;  the amount  exceeds  $100,000 over  the                                                               
course of three to five years -  the length of the contracts.  He                                                               
suggested that  perhaps there should  be more flexibility  on the                                                               
fast track dollar amount.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS said  that $17 million is  spent on halfway                                                               
houses.    He  asked  that  as an  alternative  to  the  proposed                                                               
legislation, he  be allowed to  bypass the procurement  rules for                                                               
$5 million;  institute a pilot  project; track the  results after                                                               
three years; and try to improve the halfway house model.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:56:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR LEDOUX  maintained that if DOC has a  problem with the                                                               
fast  track,  there  are probably  other  departments  with  that                                                               
problem.   She  suggested  that the  procurement  code should  be                                                               
revised not  just for DOC,  but for all departments;  and without                                                               
that, she cannot support the proposed legislation.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR LEDOUX passed the gavel back to Chair Kreiss-Tomkins.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK acknowledged  the high  recidivism rate;  he                                                               
expressed that  he is shocked by  the escape rate at  the halfway                                                               
houses.   He  suggested that  the contracts  require the  halfway                                                               
houses not  to allow  escapes or  to be penalized  for them.   He                                                               
offered that DOC could do better with the escape rate.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated  that  he  looked  through  the  DOC                                                               
halfway  house RFP  and was  not able  to identify  anything that                                                               
could be  eliminated.  He  mentioned two provisions  - facilities                                                               
must pay  utilities and they  must be  bonded - and  offered that                                                               
they  are necessary.   He  asked what  in the  RFP specifications                                                               
could be  eliminated.  He also  asked why DOC couldn't  write the                                                               
RFP specifications to set a limit  for the number of residents in                                                               
a  halfway  house.    He  maintained  that  a  large  part  of  a                                                               
prisoner's  success  upon  leaving   the  corrections  system  is                                                               
oversight  by  proper  peers  -  parole  officers  and  probation                                                               
officers.    He  conceded  that more  focused  attention  on  the                                                               
inmates  does lose  "economies of  scale";  however, the  greater                                                               
personal attention may help reduce the recidivism rate.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  summarized the  reasons for the  failures of                                                               
the  current  system:    the  expense per  inmate  is  high;  the                                                               
stepdown plan  is inadequate  stepdown; there is  a high  rate of                                                               
escapees;  people  don't  want  to  live  there  because  of  the                                                               
atmosphere  of drug  trafficking; and  there is  nothing for  the                                                               
residents to do.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:00:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  cited Section 3  of HB 325, [page  3, lines                                                               
19-23], which read in part:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     (b)   In authorizing a contract  for rehabilitation and                                                                    
     reentry  services made  under AS  36.30.850 and  (a) of                                                                    
     this  section, the  commissioner or  the commissioner's                                                                    
     designee shall  make a  determination that  the payment                                                                    
     for  rehabilitation and  reentry services  will promote                                                                    
     the  use  of  community-based and  culturally  relevant                                                                    
     rehabilitative  and  reentry  services most  suited  to                                                                    
     provide support for the individual                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  suggested that at  some point DOC  needs to                                                               
quantify  what is  being  asked for  in a  contract:   number  of                                                               
square  feet  for  a  room;   smoke  detectors;  and  supervision                                                               
requirements.   He  maintained that  DOC could  describe what  it                                                               
wants  in  detail;  however, he  conceded  that  quantifying  the                                                               
qualifications  of staff  to provide  rehabilitation and  reentry                                                               
services would  be more  difficult.  He  stated that  he supports                                                               
looking  for options  within the  existing  procurement code;  he                                                               
expressed  his belief  that those  options exist.   He  mentioned                                                               
that the  commissioner's objective  is meritorious;  however, the                                                               
"safest bet" is for DOC to decide  what it wants, put out an RFP,                                                               
and rely on a competitive bid process.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:03:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 325 would be held over.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked for the  various ways that  people are                                                               
put into halfway houses.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS answered that  the walk-away rate decreased                                                               
by about  one-third from  the prior year  due to  being "smarter"                                                               
about who  was allowed into a  halfway house.  He  stated that he                                                               
has been  criticized for  not releasing  more inmates  to halfway                                                               
houses; however, he  maintained that to avoid the  escape rate of                                                               
2016, DOC  has pared  down who was  eligible for  halfway houses.                                                               
He relayed  that except  for very  few exceptions,  halfway house                                                               
residents are people  still serving sentences with  six months to                                                               
a  year  remaining.    The  two  main  groups  of  halfway  house                                                               
residents  are  inmates  who are  furloughed,  as  determined  by                                                               
statute, and inmates on electronic monitoring.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON  stated   that  she   got  involved   in                                                               
government   because  of   someone  trying   to  circumvent   the                                                               
procurement  code  and  has reservations  about  allowing  it  to                                                               
happen.  She suggested that  DOA staff provide information on the                                                               
procurement code  and the committee  explore possible  changes to                                                               
the code.   She also suggested that the  committee hear testimony                                                               
from  the  halfway  house  contractors and  get  their  input  on                                                               
possible solutions to the halfway house problems.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:06:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS concurred with the suggestions.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  referred to the phrase  "culturally relevant                                                               
rehabilitative   and  reentry   services"  and   asked  for   the                                                               
percentage  of halfway  house  inmates who  are  from outside  of                                                               
Alaska's  urban areas,  who might  receive a  greater benefit  by                                                               
being in a  place with people from their  own cultural background                                                               
and closer  to home.  He  mentioned that there are  a fair number                                                               
of  Alaska  Natives  incarcerated;  someone  from  a  rural  area                                                               
paroled  in Anchorage  must  stay  in Anchorage  to  be close  to                                                               
his/her  parole officer;  rural  halfway houses  could help  this                                                               
urban-rural divide,  if there are  such places willing to  bid on                                                               
halfway house contracts.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  replied  that   another  reason  why  the                                                               
current model is broken is  that there are not smaller facilities                                                               
in rural  areas; people do  not want to  go to halfway  houses in                                                               
one location and  try to get a job, knowing  that eventually they                                                               
will  be  leaving.   He  added  that even  the  Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
("Mat-Su") Valley does not have stepdown housing.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  mentioned  Unalakleet and  similar  rural                                                               
communities   and   emphasized   the  benefits   of   financially                                                               
supporting even one stable home in  such a region to allow Alaska                                                               
Natives to return  to that location.  An operator  of a home that                                                               
size  would never  be  able to  prepare a  bid  according to  the                                                               
current procurement code; the specification  of square footage is                                                               
much less important than the  location of the home; and closeness                                                               
to home  and one's support system  is more important.   He stated                                                               
that the  commissioner of DOC  still has full custody  of halfway                                                               
house inmates;  in the smaller  halfway houses, any  problems can                                                               
be  immediately  and  appropriately  addressed  with  a  measured                                                               
response.  He agreed that the  current halfway house model is not                                                               
culturally  relevant to  many  inmates, and  there  are very  few                                                               
options for finding a culturally relevant environment.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:10:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  clarified his  earlier  question:   For  a                                                               
person who  was nonproductive before  jail, what would  make them                                                               
productive upon  release?  He  expressed his belief  that smaller                                                               
halfway houses would  have no effect on encouraging  an inmate to                                                               
become  productive.   People who  have  had a  lifetime of  being                                                               
productive are likely to be productive after incarceration.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  stated that there  are two reasons  for his                                                               
disagreement with  the proposal in  HB 325:   one is  waiving the                                                               
procurement  code; the  other is  that  contracting with  smaller                                                               
facilities  loses  economies of  scale.    If the  [hypothetical]                                                               
house in  Unalakleet is not  full, the  price per square  foot or                                                               
per bed would have to increase.   He relayed that the discussions                                                               
on Senate Bill  91, [passed during the  Twenty-Ninth Alaska State                                                               
Legislature  (2015-2016) and  signed into  law 7/11/16],  and the                                                               
discussions of  HB 325 both  noted the  disproportionately higher                                                               
incarcerations  rates of  rural  Alaska Natives  and  a need  for                                                               
culturally  relevant treatment.   He  maintained that  if housing                                                               
inmates in a  small rural community to  attain cultural relevance                                                               
results in  just one or two  inmates, DOC has lost  all economies                                                               
of scale.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP stated  that he does not support  HB 325 for                                                               
two  reasons.    He  maintained  that  he  does  not  support  an                                                               
exception  to  the procurement  code,  however,  would support  a                                                               
review  of the  procurement code.   He  stated that  secondly, he                                                               
does  not  agree  with  the  overall  plan  behind  the  proposed                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[HB 325 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB400 Sponsor Statement 3.7.18.pdf HSTA 3/8/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB400 Sectional Analysis 3.7.18.pdf HSTA 3/8/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB400 ver A 2.28.18.pdf HSTA 3/1/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/8/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB400 Fiscal Note DPS 3.1.18.pdf HSTA 3/1/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/8/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB400 Amendment 1 3.7.18.pdf HSTA 3/8/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB400 Amendment2 3.13.18.pdf HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 400
HB325 Sponsor Statement 2.05.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.5.2018.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 ver A 2.05.18.PDF HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Fiscal Note DOC 2.05.18.PDF HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Supporting Document-Letter DHSS 2.13.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Supporting Document testimony, T Eames CCTHITA 2.15.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Letter of Support- Michelle Overstreet 3.14.18.pdf HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB 325- Opposing Document- Letter from AACOP 3.30.18.pdf HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
H STA Indirect Expenditure Hearings 3.13.18.pdf HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM