Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

01/28/2020 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HJR 15 CONST. AM: VOTES NEEDED FOR VETO OVERRIDE TELECONFERENCED
Moved HJR 15 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 187 RESTRICT OUT-OF-STATE CORRECTIONAL FACIL. TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 187(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 187-RESTRICT OUT-OF-STATE CORRECTIONAL FACIL.                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
3:23:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  announced  that   the  final  order  of                                                               
business  would  be HOUSE  BILL  NO.  187,  "An Act  relating  to                                                               
correctional  facilities;  relating  to   the  authority  of  the                                                               
commissioner  of   corrections  to  designate   the  correctional                                                               
facility to  which a prisoner  is to be committed;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:23:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS moved to adopt Amendment 1, labeled 31-                                                                         
LS1253\E.6, Radford, 1/28/20, which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 10:                                                                                                           
          Delete "or private"                                                                                                   
          Insert "[OR PRIVATE]"                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
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          Delete "or private"                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
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          Delete "an"                                                                                                       
          Insert "a public"                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
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          Delete "or"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
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          Delete "[OR SECURITY]"                                                                                                
          Insert "or security"                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 9, following "prisoner":                                                                                      
          Insert "; or                                                                                                      
               (3)  to reduce the cost of housing a                                                                         
     prisoner who                                                                                                           
               (A)  is not a resident of the state; or                                                                      
               (B)  has been sentenced to a term or                                                                         
     aggregate  term of  imprisonment of  99 years  or more,                                                                
     and, if the prisoner is a parent, the prisoner                                                                         
               (i)  does not have a child under 18 years of                                                                 
     age residing in the state; or                                                                                          
               (ii)  has a child under 18 years of age                                                                      
     residing  in the  state,  but  the prisoner's  parental                                                                
     rights to the child have been terminated"                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, lines 17 - 19:                                                                                                     
          Delete "state. Notwithstanding AS 36.30.300, an                                                                   
     agreement with  a private  agency to  provide necessary                                                                    
     facilities outside the state  under (a) of this section                                                                
     must be based on competitive bids."                                                                                        
          Insert    "state    or    outside    the    state.                                                                
     [NOTWITHSTANDING  AS 36.30.300,  AN  AGREEMENT  WITH  A                                                                    
     PRIVATE  AGENCY TO  PROVIDE NECESSARY  FACILITIES UNDER                                                                    
     (a)  OF  THIS  SECTION  MUST BE  BASED  ON  COMPETITIVE                                                                    
     BIDS.]"                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 2:                                                                                                            
          Delete "or"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 3, following "health":                                                                                    
          Insert "or security"                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 4, following "considerations":                                                                            
          Insert "; or                                                                                                      
               (C)  would reduce the cost of housing a                                                                      
     prisoner  who is  not a  resident of  the state  or has                                                                
     been  sentenced   to  a  term  or   aggregate  term  of                                                                
     imprisonment of 99 years or  more, and, if the prisoner                                                                
     is a parent, the prisoner                                                                                              
               (i)  does not have a child under 18 years of                                                                 
     age residing in the state; or                                                                                          
               (ii)  has a child under 18 years of age                                                                      
     residing  in the  state,  but  the prisoner's  parental                                                                
     rights to the child have been terminated"                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON objected for discussion purposes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS mentioned  that  he  worked with  Representative                                                               
Jackson's  office   to  incorporate  her  suggestions   into  the                                                               
proposed amendment.  He explained  that the intent of Amendment 1                                                               
is that  if it is  cheaper to house a  prisoner out of  state, in                                                               
the case  of a prisoner sentenced  to serve 99 years  or longer -                                                               
essentially a life  sentence - who does not have  family for whom                                                               
family visitation  is important for the  emotional development of                                                               
a child who  lives in Alaska, then the  Department of Corrections                                                               
(DOC)  would have  the option  of  housing that  prisoner out  of                                                               
state.   He added that the  prisoners in this category  number 20                                                               
or fewer.   He  noted that  there are  a few  prisoners currently                                                               
incarcerated out of  state.  As an example, a  police officer who                                                               
commits  an offense  is incarcerated  out of  state for  security                                                               
reasons.   Nothing  in  the proposed  amendment  or the  proposed                                                               
legislation would inhibit  the ability of DOC to  house a limited                                                               
population  of  prisoners  out   of  state  consistent  with  the                                                               
Interstate Corrections Compact.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:26:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON   referred  to  page  2,   line  27,  of                                                               
Amendment 1,  which read in  part, "... imprisonment of  99 years                                                               
or more ..."  He asked how  long a prisoner sentenced to 99 years                                                               
with  [the  possibility  of]  parole   must  serve  before  being                                                               
eligible for parole.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS  answered that  the intent  of the  amendment was                                                               
that  it apply  to those  incarcerated  for life.   He  suggested                                                               
getting an opinion from Legislative Legal Services.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:28:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLY  GOODE,  Deputy  Commissioner,  Department  of  Corrections                                                               
(DOC),  responded   that  there   are  many   considerations  for                                                               
calculating time served; however, in  general, it is possible for                                                               
an  inmate  to reduce  his/her  sentence  by one-third  for  good                                                               
behavior.  She  stated that Alaska does not  give life sentences;                                                               
sentences are  given in years.   She offered that the  age of the                                                               
individual  and the  average lifespan  would determine  whether a                                                               
sentence constitutes  a life imprisonment,  and DOC  considers 78                                                               
years of age to be an average lifespan for a male.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:29:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS asked  whether someone  sentenced to  99-                                                               
plus years would be transferred  automatically out of state under                                                               
HB 187.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS replied no.   The proposed legislation would give                                                               
the commissioner  of DOC  the option  of doing so  if it  is cost                                                               
effective.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether it  would be based  on cost                                                               
alone and not the type of crime.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   FIELDS  reiterated   that  HB   187  would   give  the                                                               
commissioner the option  if it is cheaper.   The commissioner may                                                               
take other factors  into account, which are not  specified in the                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether  those other  factors would                                                               
be at the digression of the commissioner on an individual basis.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS answered yes.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether  a person, who  has his/her                                                               
sentence  reduced,  would  be  transferred   back  to  an  Alaska                                                               
facility.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  replied that  as HB 187  reads, the  [exemption] would                                                               
not be applicable at that point  and DOC would have to review the                                                               
case.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS referred  to Amendment  1, [page  1, line                                                               
22], which  read, "... is not  a resident of the  state ...", and                                                               
asked, "Do we currently have anybody  housed in Alaska who is not                                                               
a resident of the state?"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  answered that  there are people  who travel  to Alaska                                                               
and commit  crimes, and they  may be incarcerated by  Alaska DOC.                                                               
She said she would provide that  number but does not expect it to                                                               
be very large.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether criminals serve  their time                                                               
where they commit their crimes.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE replied, "For the most part, yes."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  asked  for  the  variables  [that  would                                                               
determine the location of incarceration].                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE responded, "In general,  we sentence the folks up here,                                                               
except for  the 11  people right  now that  we have  in different                                                               
locations due to extenuating circumstances."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:32:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE asked  for the  current policy  for sending                                                               
inmates Outside.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  stated that currently  there is a  classification unit                                                               
that  looks  at  the  best  housing options  for  inmates.    For                                                               
example, if a former police officer  has committed a crime and is                                                               
incarcerated,  DOC is  notified  internally  of that  individual.                                                               
The  classification unit  will review  that case  because of  the                                                               
security issues associated with housing  that person in state due                                                               
to his/her  prior profession.   The  department works  with other                                                               
states through the compact - as  described in statute - to find a                                                               
suitable placement.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  asked Ms.  Goode for her  recommendation on                                                               
statutory wording  to reflect Representative Jackson's  intent as                                                               
it relates to life-long inmates who will not be released.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GOODE responded  that she  understands the  representative's                                                               
intent,  and mathematically  the "99  years or  more" is  a close                                                               
approximation.    She said  that,  broadly  speaking, if  someone                                                               
commits  a crime  at 20  years old,  earned all  the "good  time"                                                               
available to him/her,  the remaining 60 years to  be served would                                                               
exceed the  anticipated average lifespan  of 78 years.   She said                                                               
policy  is  the  legislature's  purview,  but  according  to  the                                                               
mathematics,  the  proposed amendment  approaches  Representative                                                               
Jackson's intent.   She added  that DOC estimates that  there are                                                               
about 200 people who fall into  the category of people not likely                                                               
to  be released,  and the  wording in  the amendment  encompasses                                                               
most of  them.  She offered  to work with the  sponsor to achieve                                                               
the goal behind the amendment.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:37:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIJAH VERHAGEN, Staff, Representative  Sharon Jackson, on behalf                                                               
of Representative  Jackson, acknowledged that the  "99 years" may                                                               
not  be   ideal  language   and  confirmed   that  Representative                                                               
Jackson's intent is  to not send prisoners out of  state who will                                                               
be  released  into  Alaska.    He  mentioned  alternate  wording,                                                               
drafted by Legislative Legal Services,  to encompass the group of                                                               
prisoners not likely to be released,  but it was not ready by the                                                               
amendment deadline.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:39:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 3:39 p.m. to 3:41 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:41:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS made comments on process.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:42:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON withdrew his objection to Amendment 1.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS    objected   to   Amendment    1   for                                                               
clarification purposes.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:43:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked how DOC would  determine which out-                                                               
of-state facilities will afford Alaska lower costs.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE reminded the committee  that the proposed amendment was                                                               
not submitted by DOC.  She  opined that DOC would need to develop                                                               
guidelines for  making these determinations.   She mentioned that                                                               
the  cost  of one  inmate  per  day  in  Alaska is  $168.74;  the                                                               
classification  unit  has  relationships with  other  states  and                                                               
knows  the costs  associated with  other states'  public prisons.                                                               
In this way  DOC would ensure that cost savings  were realized as                                                               
required by statute.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether all people  sentenced to 99                                                               
years or  longer committed violent  crimes, or whether  there are                                                               
other crimes  resulting in  incarceration for  99 years,  such as                                                               
extensive drug dealing crimes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  answered that  she cannot answer  that question.   She                                                               
relayed  that unclassified  felonies do  result in  incarceration                                                               
for  that   length  of  time,   and  perhaps  conspiracy   is  an                                                               
unclassified felony.  She offered to provide that information.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS  said, in summary,  that Amendment 1  would allow                                                               
DOC the option of housing  a very limited subsection of prisoners                                                               
- those with  extremely long sentences of 99 years  or more - out                                                               
of  state in  the event  that such  out-of-state placement  would                                                               
save  money based  on a  reasonably comprehensive  analysis.   It                                                               
does not  mandate that  the commissioner  place prisoners  out of                                                               
state; it does  not prescribe certain groups to be  placed out of                                                               
state;  it does  not  alter the  department's existing  authority                                                               
under the Interstate Corrections Compact.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS removed  his objection  to Amendment  1.                                                               
There being no further objection, it was so ordered.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:47:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY  referred to the exclusion  of parents [with                                                               
children living in  Alaska] among the categories  of inmates that                                                               
may be  sent out of state,  [page 2, line  25 - page 3,  line 2],                                                               
and asked  whether adult children  of Alaska residents  should be                                                               
excluded as well, in view of  DOC's concern for family ties.  She                                                               
offered another point  - a parent is listed for  exclusion but in                                                               
some cases a guardian of a child  under 18 may be involved, not a                                                               
parent.  She added that in  some cultures other relatives raise a                                                               
child.    She  asked  that   these  additional  circumstances  be                                                               
considered to protect the family unit.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:49:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE relayed  that she  supports keeping  Alaska                                                               
prisoners  in  state;  it  is vital  for  the  rehabilitation  of                                                               
inmates  to become  productive  members of  the  community.   She                                                               
referred to the fiscal note (FN) analysis, which read:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     If this legislation were  passed, these prisoners would                                                                    
     be  required  to remain  within  an  Alaska prison  and                                                                    
     could jeopardize the safety and  security of the staff,                                                                    
     prisoners, and  facility. ... If this  legislation were                                                                    
     passed, it  is unknown the full  financial impacts that                                                                    
     could  result  from; facility  overcrowding,  increased                                                                    
     staffing   overtime,  potential   litigation,  facility                                                                    
     renovations  and  repairs,  as   well  as  other  costs                                                                    
     associated  with  identifying increased  bed  capacity;                                                                    
     therefore,  an  indeterminate   fiscal  note  is  being                                                                    
     submitted.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE expressed that  this portion of the analysis                                                               
is concerning and asked for further explanation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE replied that two questions  are being asked.  The first                                                               
- about security issues - was  addressed by Amendment 1; DOC will                                                               
be able to take those security  risks and work with other states;                                                               
therefore, that portion  of the FN will be modified.   The second                                                               
portion of the analysis reflects  the department's view of having                                                               
the  available tools  to manage  the prison  population when  the                                                               
tools are  needed.  Regarding facility  overcrowding, she offered                                                               
the following:   Having the ability to send inmates  out of state                                                               
- although  not the desired  option -  is a "population  tool" to                                                               
manage  prison  overcapacity,  avoid   being  sued,  and  address                                                               
security  issues.    The department  cannot  anticipate  all  the                                                               
consequences of overcrowding but wants  as many tools as possible                                                               
to manage it.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE offered  her understanding  that there  are                                                               
many halfway  house beds  available at  $90 per  day.   She asked                                                               
whether  DOC has  the flexibility  to  put unsentenced  prisoners                                                               
into  the  halfway houses  to  accommodate  capacity and  funding                                                               
concerns.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  replied that DOC  fully supports placing  inmates into                                                               
community residential centers  (CRCs) - halfway houses  - as well                                                               
as on electronic  monitoring (EM).  She said that  there are many                                                               
restrictions that guide DOC, both  municipal ordinances and state                                                               
statutes.    She relayed  that  one  minimum custody  inmate  may                                                               
qualify for both housing options,  but there are not many inmates                                                               
who qualify  for either.   She said  that DOC has  been reviewing                                                               
inmates  constantly since  the legislative  session [of  2019] in                                                               
response to the pressure to release  prisoners when it is safe to                                                               
do so.   The caveat  for DOC  is finding appropriate  inmates for                                                               
release.   She  stated that  by statute,  DOC cannot  put someone                                                               
with the charge  of domestic violence (DV) out  on EM; therefore,                                                               
that group  of inmates is  not eligible  for release.   She added                                                               
that there  are ordinances that preclude  putting someone charged                                                               
as  a sex  offender into  a CRC.   Some  locations allow  someone                                                               
charged with a  felony crime to be released, some  do not.  Being                                                               
sentenced versus  unsentenced can make a  difference for release.                                                               
She  maintained  that  the   classification  unit  is  constantly                                                               
looking  at options  for inmates.   The  bed charge  for CRCs  is                                                               
less,  DOC would  like to  take advantage  of that,  but it  is a                                                               
matter of  finding the right  inmate at  the right time  with the                                                               
right amount  of time  left on his/her  sentence.   She mentioned                                                               
that a  halfway house is  transitional housing  for reintegration                                                               
back into society; it would  be inappropriate to put someone with                                                               
five years left on his/her sentence into a halfway house.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:55:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  referred to  page  2,  lines 15-17,  which                                                               
read:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The commissioner  may not enter into  an agreement with                                                                    
     a  private  agency  to  establish,  maintain,  operate,                                                                    
     control,  or provide  necessary  facilities located  in                                                                    
     this state.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  asked  whether  DOC  has  agreements  with                                                               
private agencies that HB 187 would limit.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GOODE expressed  her belief  that HB  187 refers  to private                                                               
prison facilities;  Alaska does  not have  such agreements.   She                                                               
stated  that Alaska's  CRCs are  through  private contracts;  she                                                               
offered her understanding that HB 187 does not apply to CRCs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS   agreed  that   the  intent  of   the  proposed                                                               
legislation is  not to limit  CRCs operated by  private entities.                                                               
He said, "That would be disruptive."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:57:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY acknowledged that  an inmate would not serve                                                               
as a guardian; she expressed  her concern that close relatives be                                                               
considered under the proposed legislation.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:58:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  opened public  and invited  testimony on                                                               
HB 187.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:58:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CATHLEEN  MCLAUGHLIN,  Owner,  Restorative and  Reentry  Services                                                               
LLC,  testified  that  she  supports HB  187  but  cautioned  the                                                               
committee to  be careful about the  language in Amendment 1.   As                                                               
the former  director of the Partners  Reentry Center [Anchorage],                                                               
she  attested  to  there  being   many  99-year  sentence  people                                                               
released from prison on parole -  so many that the center created                                                               
a  group  specifically  for  these   people,  because  they  have                                                               
different reentry plans  than people who are short  termers.  She                                                               
maintained that  in her experience,  the assumption  that inmates                                                               
sentenced  for 99  years will  serve at  least 60-plus  years was                                                               
just not  true.  Prisoners  were applying for and  getting parole                                                               
after 25-30 years.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCLAUGHLIN offered five points supportive  of HB 187:  1) The                                                               
displacement of inmates into areas  outside of Alaska discourages                                                               
rehabilitation.    She emphasized  the  importance  of an  inmate                                                               
being  a  family  member  and  having  a  support  group  in  the                                                               
community  in  which that  inmate  lives.    2) Without  HB  187,                                                               
healthy communities  that have been  created within the  walls of                                                               
the  correctional facilities  are disassembled.   She  maintained                                                               
that  there are  currently restorative  programs in  Spring Creek                                                               
Correctional  Center   (SCCC)  [Seward],   Wildwood  Correctional                                                               
Center  (WCC) [Kenai],  and Hiland  Mountain Correctional  Center                                                               
(HMCC) [Eagle River]  with active participants and  mentors.  The                                                               
long  termers help  run programs  and model  behavior.   She said                                                               
SCCC has  a long termer who  is now teaching a  morals and ethics                                                               
class that  is highly popular, because  he was able to  model the                                                               
behavior of  a professor who came  into the prison to  teach non-                                                               
violent conflict resolution.  She  asserted that long termers can                                                               
be  assets  inside   prison  walls,  if  they   are  provided  an                                                               
opportunity  to  participate  in  restorative  programming.    3)                                                               
Communities  need  to  meet  their  soon-to-be  neighbors  before                                                               
release.   The DOC historically  - in the  past five years  - has                                                               
allowed community-based reentry  centers, faith-based groups, and                                                               
mentors to go into prisons  to develop healthy relationships with                                                               
the inmates,  so that  when the inmates  are released,  they have                                                               
some place "to land."  It  would be difficult to continue to grow                                                               
those kinds of programs when  individuals with whom one is trying                                                               
to  build relationships  are not  in  Alaska.   It is  especially                                                               
important for the Alaska Native  population who are incarcerated.                                                               
She offered  that 38 percent  of the prison population  is Alaska                                                               
Native and only 18-19 percent  of the Alaska population is Alaska                                                               
Native.   Not allowing these  prisoners community access  to help                                                               
them grow with community members is  not a healthy choice for the                                                               
state.     4)  For-profit   prisons  monetize   punishment;  they                                                               
encourage  more  punitive   approaches  than  rehabilitative  and                                                               
restorative approaches.   Research demonstrates that  there is an                                                               
increase in  technical violations and lack  of incentive programs                                                               
in private prisons, because the  incarcerated individual is not a                                                               
person but  a product,  and private prisons  look for  the lowest                                                               
cost alternative.   The  reason it is  a low-cost  alternative is                                                               
because  it is  a  "containment" model  and  not a  "restorative"                                                               
model.   The  national trend  is  to steer  away from  for-profit                                                               
prisons.  She  recommended that Alaska follow that trend.   5) HB                                                               
187 would provide  Alaskans a guarantee that there will  not be a                                                               
change in  policy every four  years that changes  cultures within                                                               
the institutions  - cultures that  have grown  over time.   It is                                                               
important for  restorative programs  to have continuity,  and not                                                               
be  subject to  changes  in Alaska's  political  structure.   She                                                               
encouraged  the  state to  "grow"  what  is working  [within  the                                                               
correctional system] and  eliminate what is not.   She maintained                                                               
that culture  changes within institutions require  time; behavior                                                               
does not improve  "at the flip of a switch";  the culture must be                                                               
grown so that  the people inside view the institution  as a place                                                               
of safety  and participation.   She  added that  she is  a strong                                                               
advocate  for DOC  having control  over choices  that need  to be                                                               
made.  When  you send people to non-profit centers  out of state,                                                               
Alaskans lose  the local accountability  that comes  with housing                                                               
prisoners locally.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:06:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS paraphrased from the following prepared statement                                                                    
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     [First], from what I read  in this legislation, the DOC                                                                    
     Commissioner is  being denied the ability  to use sound                                                                    
     management  practices in  putting prisoners  where they                                                                    
     will cost  us the  least amount of  money, specifically                                                                    
     for those with  a long record of crime  and no attempts                                                                    
     to correct  criminal behavior.  I  can see  keeping and                                                                    
     housing   first  term   prisoners  here,   with  strong                                                                    
     programs  to  help  them   reintegrate  back  into  the                                                                    
     community and  not return to  a life of  crime.  Moving                                                                    
     hardened   criminals  out   of  State   or  into   more                                                                    
     appropriate max security prisons  keeps the first timer                                                                    
     away from  the hardened  criminal.  That  increases the                                                                    
     safety  for  the  first  timer   and  keeps  them  from                                                                    
     learning the crime trade even more.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     [Second]  and something  that I  have yet  to see  done                                                                    
     here  and  very few  other  States.   When a  crime  is                                                                    
     committed that  is not  just a  State of  Alaska crime,                                                                    
     but a Federal crime, we  need to turn that suspect over                                                                    
     to the  US Attorney  General's office  for prosecution.                                                                    
     This  saves Alaska  costs at  trial  and prison  costs.                                                                    
     This gets  that convicted criminal out  of Alaska, into                                                                    
     a  Federal prison  at the  cost of  the Federal  prison                                                                    
     system.  Sure,  we the taxpayers  pay for that,  but we                                                                    
     do  that already.   These are  serious crimes  and most                                                                    
     likely  not something  that a  person with  no criminal                                                                    
     history  would  commit,  thus   they  are  the  problem                                                                    
     criminals  that have  a very  poor  recidivism rate  to                                                                    
     begin with.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  [second] idea  may be  out  of the  scope of  the                                                                    
     Commissioner of DOC, but why  can't this bill be a path                                                                    
     towards reducing  prison overcrowding, prison  costs as                                                                    
     well as a means  to realistically reduce the recidivism                                                                    
     rate in our prisons.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:09:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID NEES  offered that  HB 187 is  a good  conversation starter                                                               
for housing prisoners in Alaska.   The reason for SCCC was due to                                                               
a judge's decision that Alaska  could not house prisoners Outside                                                               
because  of  the  absence  of  rehabilitation  and  closeness  to                                                               
family.   It was a  very expensive lawsuit  to lose and  cost the                                                               
state several million dollars.   He maintained that under HB 187,                                                               
it would be difficult for the  commissioner of DOC to comply with                                                               
a judge's  order; if  a judge says  the prisons  are overcrowded,                                                               
the commissioner would  not have the option under HB  187 to send                                                               
inmates out of state.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEES  said that, as  an education researcher for  many years,                                                               
there is  very little  data on the  inmates and  their histories.                                                               
He  maintained that  the proposed  legislation  needs more  work,                                                               
which could possibly be done in the next committee of referral.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:11:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATIE  BOTZ testified  that she  supports keeping  family members                                                               
close and  inmates in  Alaska.   She expressed  her understanding                                                               
that  sending inmates  out of  Alaska would  cost the  state more                                                               
than keeping them  in state.  Since Alaska is  low on revenue, it                                                               
makes  sense to  reopen Palmer  Correctional Center  (PCC).   She                                                               
referred  to her  written testimony  (included  in the  committee                                                               
packet).   She  mentioned that  she does  not want  Alaska to  be                                                               
viewed as a  weak state which cannot take care  of its own crimes                                                               
and inmates.   Alaska is a  strong state and should  take care of                                                               
its own problems.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:13:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LAURA BONNER testified  that she remembers the  fiasco of private                                                               
prisons in Alaska  and the discussions to  bring Alaska prisoners                                                               
back.  She  said she remembers the  corruption and inefficiencies                                                               
of that time  and expressed that Alaska should never  "go back to                                                               
that."   She said  that she personally  knows four  prisoners who                                                               
were incarcerated  in out-of-state prisons; most  of their crimes                                                               
were fueled  by trying to  finance substance abuse.   She relayed                                                               
that she corresponded with all of  them:  they reported that they                                                               
were isolated, pressured to become  involved with gangs for their                                                               
protection,  had   no  access   to  rehabilitation   programs  or                                                               
substance abuse recovery programs; and  had no visitors while out                                                               
of state.   She  asserted that  the state could  do a  better job                                                               
with them  in state; Alaska does  not need to contribute  to gang                                                               
recruitment; and  while there still  are not enough  programs for                                                               
reentry  into the  community, Alaska  has made  progress in  that                                                               
direction.   She  stated that  it is  important to  continue this                                                               
progress rather  than utilize private  prisons or  send prisoners                                                               
out of state.  Reopening PCC is a step in the right direction.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:16:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS closed public testimony on HB 187.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:16:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS  thanked the many  legislators who  assisted with                                                               
HB 187.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:17:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  asked that action  on HB 187  be postponed.                                                               
She offered  that there are  many issues  yet to be  resolved and                                                               
the committee  should "get it right."   She opined that  there is                                                               
ample time to move the proposed legislation in the House.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY suggested  that  a  House Finance  Standing                                                               
Committee member could make changes to HB 187 in committee.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS stated  that  he does  not  have concerns  about                                                               
moving HB  187 through the  House; his concerns are  with getting                                                               
it to the Senate  on time to deliberate it and  vote on it before                                                               
the end of the session.  It  is very difficult to schedule a bill                                                               
in the  Senate toward  the end  of session;  there are  many more                                                               
steps before HB 187 can become law.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  expressed that  she  wishes  to amend  the                                                               
proposed legislation in the current committee to get it right.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:20:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE moved to table HB  187 until a later date in                                                               
order to get legal advice on the amendments.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS objected to the motion.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:21:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:21:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS maintained his objection.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Vance, Hopkins, and                                                               
Thompson  voted in  favor  of tabling  HB  187.   Representatives                                                               
Shaw,  Story,  Fields,  and   Kreiss-Tomkins  voted  against  it.                                                               
Therefore, tabling HB 187 failed by a vote of 3-5.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:22:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS moved  to  report  HB 187,  as  amended, out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  an indeterminant                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE objected.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Shaw,  Hopkins,                                                               
Story, Fields, and Kreiss-Tomkins voted  in favor of reporting HB                                                               
187, as amended, out of  committee.  Representatives Thompson and                                                               
Vance voted  against it.   Therefore, CSHB 187(STA)  was reported                                                               
from the House  State Affairs Standing Committee by a  vote of 5-                                                               
2.                                                                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR015 DRAFT Fiscal Note OG-DOE-1-17-20.pdf HSTA 1/28/2020 3:00:00 PM
HJR 15
HB187 DRAFT Fiscal Note DOC-IDO-1-17-2020.pdf HSTA 1/28/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 187
HB 187 Public Testimony 1.28.20.pdf HSTA 1/28/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 187