Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

03/18/2021 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
         HB  118-EXPANDING PRISONER ACCESS TO COMPUTERS                                                                     
3:04:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the first order  of business                                                              
would  be  HOUSE   BILL  NO.  118,  "An  Act   relating  to  state                                                              
identifications and  driver's licenses for persons  in the custody                                                              
of the  Department of Corrections;  relating to the duties  of the                                                              
commissioner  of corrections;  relating to  living conditions  for                                                              
prisoners; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
3:05:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS,  prime   sponsor,  provided   introductory                                                              
remarks  on HB  118.   He recalled  that  last year,  a number  of                                                              
hearings  in the  State Affairs  Standing  Committee pertained  to                                                              
rehabilitation,  improving Alaska's  correctional facilities,  and                                                              
reducing  recidivism.   Subsequently,  a  committee  bill was  put                                                              
forth that  included statutory  recommendations by the  Department                                                              
of Corrections (DOC)  and stakeholders, which "died"  in the House                                                              
Rules  Standing   Committee  at   the  end  of  the   thirty-first                                                              
legislative session.   He noted that  HB 118 is a  continuation of                                                              
that legislation.                                                                                                               
3:07:09 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDSAY  BIRK,  Staff,  Representative   Jonathan  Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                              
Alaska  State Legislature,  on  behalf of  Representative  Kreiss-                                                              
Tomkins, prime  sponsor, presented  HB 118.   She paraphrased  the                                                              
sponsor  statement, which  read as  follows [original  punctuation                                                              
     The intent  of this  bill is  to remove the  restriction                                                                   
     prohibiting  a prisoner  from possessing  a computer  in                                                                   
     their  cell,   expanding  access  to  safe   and  secure                                                                   
     internet    for   purposes    of   rehabilitation    and                                                                   
     reintegration,   and  provide   prisoners  with   easier                                                                   
     access to state identification upon release.                                                                               
     HB  118  creates  an  easier   process  of  reentry  and                                                                   
     rehabilitation  for  inmates  and lessens  the  risk  of                                                                   
     reoffending.  By  allowing  access to  safe  and  secure                                                                   
     internet,   inmates   are   better   able   to   prepare                                                                   
     themselves   for  reentry   into   the  outside   world.                                                                   
     According  to  a study  released  by the  Department  of                                                                   
     Justice,  68% of  prisoners  are arrested  again  within                                                                   
     three years,  83% during the  following nine  years. One                                                                   
     of the  key reasons  for reoffending  is the  difficulty                                                                   
     prisoners face  securing employment post  incarceration.                                                                   
     Access to  online job  training, therapy and  visitation                                                                   
     helps to alleviate the risk of reoffending.                                                                                
     Another important  element of  this bill is  it provides                                                                   
     easier  access  to  identification  for  prisoners  upon                                                                   
     release,   allowing   them   an   important   tool   for                                                                   
     reintegration.   Both  expanding  internet   access  for                                                                   
     prisoners  and providing  prisoners  with easier  access                                                                   
     to state  identification help  ease the difficulties  of                                                                   
     reentry and will help to lower the risk of recidivism.                                                                     
3:09:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened invited testimony.                                                                                  
3:10:00 PM                                                                                                                    
DON  HABEGER,  Community Coordinator,  Juneau  Reentry  Coalition,                                                              
informed  the  committee  that  a reentry  coalition  is  a  local                                                              
organization  that engages community  partners, local  businesses,                                                              
and individuals  to support  those transitioning from  corrections                                                              
back  into the  community.   The purpose,  he said,  is to  ensure                                                              
that local resources  are available to support  successful reentry                                                              
and reduce  the incident of reincarceration.   He added  that when                                                              
burdens  to   successful  reentry  manifest   themselves,  reentry                                                              
coalitions work  to alleviate those  barriers.  He  explained that                                                              
reentry coalitions  base their  work on evidence-based  principals                                                              
and rely on the  Risk-Need Responsivity Model, which  is also used                                                              
by   DOC  through   its  level   of   service  inventory   revised                                                              
assessment, which  is given to inmates incarcerated  for more than                                                              
90  days.   The model  teaches  that treatment  benefits  increase                                                              
when interventions  begin early  in the  corrections process.   He                                                              
relayed that  reentry coalitions  believe that Alaska  has erected                                                              
an  artificial   statutory  barrier,  which  adds   difficulty  to                                                              
treatment delivery  during incarceration.   He stated that  HB 118                                                              
would  address this  issue  by allowing  access  to technology  to                                                              
increase   rehabilitative   treatment,  training,   reentry   case                                                              
management,   pro-social  development,   and  related   programing                                                              
during  incarceration.    He  reported  that  utilizing  safe  and                                                              
secure modern technology  as a delivery medium  improves community                                                              
public safety  outcomes,  as individuals are  better prepared  for                                                              
life on  the outside.   Additionally,  he said  the importance  of                                                              
having  valid   state  ID  [identification]  upon   release  [from                                                              
incarceration] cannot  be overstated.  He pointed  out that simple                                                              
things, such  as accepting a job  and filling out the  I-9, cannot                                                              
be accomplished without  one.  He said the bill  would require the                                                              
Division  of Motor  Vehicles (DMV)  and  DOC to  work together  to                                                              
ensure  a state  ID card  is  on hand  upon  release, which  would                                                              
improve the reentry  process.  He emphasized  that [Juneau] Reentry                                                             
Coalition supports the state ID provision in HB 118.                                                                            
3:14:24 PM                                                                                                                    
KELLY  GOODE,  Deputy  Commissioner,  Department  of  Corrections,                                                              
expressed  that the  department supports  this  legislation.   She                                                              
addressed the  state ID provision,  explaining that  currently, 12                                                              
percent  of releasing  inmates  do not  have  a valid  ID.   Those                                                              
released  from DOC without  a valid  ID receive  a voucher,  which                                                              
allows them  to start the process  at DMV.  Further,  she reported                                                              
that of  the 12 percent, or  300 individuals, who  release without                                                              
an  ID, about  100  use  the voucher  system.    She said  DOC  is                                                              
working with  DMV to find  a way to close  that gap so  that every                                                              
releasing  inmate will  have  an ID  on hand.    She continued  by                                                              
noting that DOC  supports changing the statutory  requirement that                                                              
does not  allow inmates to have  a computer device in  their cell.                                                              
She added  that the change would  allow the department  to provide                                                              
education and communication opportunities for inmates.                                                                          
3:16:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   VANCE  said  her   understanding  was   that  the                                                              
computers  would be  in a  controlled environment.   She  inquired                                                              
about the need to have computer access in individual cells.                                                                     
MS. GOODE  noted that despite  the terminology, tablets  are often                                                              
used  to provide  this  education  and  communication link.    She                                                              
explained  that  current state  statute  prohibits  the  use of  a                                                              
tablet from  inside an inmate's  cell even  for reasons such  as a                                                              
family  phone  call or  [educational]  course.   She  offered  her                                                              
belief  that should  the  bill pass,  the  department would  write                                                              
policy  to  ensure  that  this technology  is  used  in  a  secure                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  inquired about  protecting  the  department                                                              
against liability.   She offered the example of  an individual who                                                              
claimed it  was a civil right for  every inmate to have  a tablet.                                                              
She  acknowledged that  [the legislature]  does not  "necessarily"                                                              
want to limit  access; however, she  said, it's a matter  of money                                                              
and security.  She questioned how to legally protect [DOC].                                                                     
MS.  GOODE suggested  that DOC  work  with the  Department of  Law                                                              
(DOL)  while  building  policy  on  this  matter.    Further,  she                                                              
addressed the  issue of  security, noting  that the tablets  would                                                              
not provide broad  or "free-flowing" access to the  internet.  She                                                              
assured the  committee that  DOC has  a constitutional  obligation                                                              
to  protect victims'  rights; therefore,  the  tablets would  only                                                              
allow access  in a  controlled environment.   She reiterated  that                                                              
the department  would work with DOL  to ensure that the  policy is                                                              
legal and fair for everyone.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE asked  whether  regulations during  COVID-19                                                              
have been relaxed  to allow the tablets to be  used for visitation                                                              
and telehealth.   She asked  how the experience  has been  for DOC                                                              
and what the department  has learned "during the time  of this new                                                              
period of access through the internet."                                                                                         
MS. GOODE said the  department would have liked to  [allow the use                                                              
of tablets], but  current state law prohibits it.   She noted that                                                              
telehealth  was utilized  via (indisc.) through  medical,  but not                                                              
with tablets or individual offenders.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE asked  for  verification  that the  proposed                                                              
statutory   change  would   allow   the  department   to   utilize                                                              
telehealth for [inmates] and visitation with loved ones.                                                                        
MS. GOODE  explained that  it would  provide "what the  department                                                              
looks  at," such  as education,  social  programs, and  visitation                                                              
with  family.    She  offered  to   follow  up  with  the  general                                                              
telehealth   programs   that   are  available   for   the   inmate                                                              
3:21:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  referred to page  6, line 26, and  asked why                                                              
the term "healthcare" is used versus "telehealth."                                                                              
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  recalled that the language  was incorporated                                                              
in partnership  with DOC.  He  acknowledged that if  healthcare is                                                              
proscriptive  to the  possibility  of telehealth,  that's not  the                                                              
intent.   He said amending  that to be  explicitly clear  could be                                                              
an easy fix.                                                                                                                    
3:22:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  referenced  page 6,  subsection  (i),  and                                                              
asked  if  without  the proposed  change,  that  subsection  would                                                              
prohibit  the department  from providing tablets  or computers  to                                                              
prisoners under any circumstance.                                                                                               
MS.  GOODE said  that  is the  section of  statute  that is  being                                                              
revised to  offer as much  as possible through  the tablets.   She                                                              
surmised  that when  [the  original statute  was  written] in  the                                                              
1990s,  the idea  that prisoners  could  use tablets  in a  secure                                                              
manner did  not exist.   She conveyed  that the  intent was  to be                                                              
more  expansive so  that when  telehealth  and healthcare  options                                                              
became available, DOC would be allowed to offer them.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN  asked   how  the   department  plans   on                                                              
preventing  prisoners from  using  the tablets  for  inappropriate                                                              
MS.  GOODE said  DOC would  work  with vendors  that offer  secure                                                              
networks to ensure that the proper security is in place.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN referred  to the  "healthcare" language  on                                                              
page 6, line 26,  and pointed out that healthcare  is broad enough                                                              
to include telehealth,  but telehealth may not be  broad enough to                                                              
include  all  healthcare.   Therefore,  he  opined that  the  term                                                              
"healthcare" is appropriate.   He directed attention  to lines 22-                                                              
24  and  asked if  the  facilitating  case  plan would  limit  the                                                              
ability  for a  sick prisoner  to  use a  tablet to  speak with  a                                                              
doctor.   He  questioned whether  the case  plan includes  staying                                                              
healthy while in prison.                                                                                                        
MS.  GOODE  opined  that  the language  that  pertains  to  what's                                                              
accessible from the tablet is broader rather than prohibitive.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  for confirmation  that the  language                                                              
would allow  for a  prisoner in his/her  cell to  use a  tablet to                                                              
communicate with a medical provider via telehealth.                                                                             
MS. GOODE said she  is unsure whether direct access  to a provider                                                              
would be available.  She offered to follow up on that.                                                                          
3:26:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN reasoned  that  it raises  the question  of                                                              
what an individual  would be doing for his/her own  health care in                                                              
terms of communicating directly with a provider.                                                                                
MS. GOODE  noted that many inmates  may have special  diets, which                                                              
is something  in a  case plan that  could be  viewed on  a tablet.                                                              
Another  possibility  could  be  using  the  tablet  to  fill  out                                                              
Medicaid  forms.   She opined  that addressing  healthcare in  the                                                              
bill allows  for growth.   She reiterated  that the intent  was to                                                              
be  expansive  so that  as  technology  changes, DOC  could  offer                                                              
options to inmates in a safe and secure manner.                                                                                 
3:28:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  asked  whether  the tablets  could  be  a                                                              
hazard in terms of glass, which could be turned into a weapon.                                                                  
MS. GOODE  said DOC  would work  with providers  and vendors  that                                                              
have developed safe  and secure protection for  the tablets, which                                                              
has been proven in facilities nationwide.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  referenced  a  Washington  Post  articled                                                              
[included  in the  committee packet]  that  mentions devices  that                                                              
had been used  to coordinate rebellion in various  facilities.  He                                                              
asked   if   the   system   would    enable   "cross-communication                                                              
coordination"  between  inmates that  could  be used  against  the                                                              
MS.  GOODE reiterated  that this  would  not provide  free-flowing                                                              
internet  access.   She assured  Representative  Kaufman that  DOC                                                              
would work  with vendors  to ensure  that the institutions'  needs                                                              
are met,  as well  as the  public's safety.   She emphasized  that                                                              
the  department   has  a  constitutional  obligation   to  protect                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  questioned  whether monitored  access  to                                                              
tablets  in the library,  for example,  would  be better than  in-                                                              
cell use.                                                                                                                       
MS. GOODE acknowledged  that Representative Kaufman  may be right,                                                              
adding that  in some  institutions, tablets  could be checked  out                                                              
for use  in a  general area.   She cautioned  against saying  that                                                              
[the tablets]  would never be used  in a single cell  depending on                                                              
the individual and the circumstance.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  reiterated his  belief  that  there is  a                                                              
control issue [to address].                                                                                                     
CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS   pointed  out   that   DOC   is  full   of                                                              
professionals  that do  this work  every day  of every  year.   He                                                              
imagined that as  Ms. Good had testified, the  parameters would be                                                              
narrow and  prescribed.  He added  that the department  is looking                                                              
for the statutory discretion to do what is currently prohibited.                                                                
3:33:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN observed that  Section 3, paragraph  (11),                                                              
specifies  that  the commissioner  shall  assist  a prisoner  with                                                              
obtaining a  valid state identification  card before release.   He                                                              
asked why  the new language in  paragraph (11) [page 4,  lines 17-                                                              
21] repeats that instruction with an emphasis on 120 days.                                                                      
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  whether Ms. Good  could remember  the                                                              
particular origin of the added language.                                                                                        
MS.  GOODE said  she  did not  remember.   She  suggested that  it                                                              
could have been a drafting determination.                                                                                       
MS. BIRK said she was also uncertain.                                                                                           
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  requested that Ms.  Birk follow up  with the                                                              
requested information.                                                                                                          
MS. GOODE  offered her  understanding that  the existing  language                                                              
[in paragraph  (11)] indicates that  DOC could continue  using the                                                              
voucher system for  an individual who has been in  prison for less                                                              
than  120   days;  however,  after   120  days,   the  legislature                                                              
recommends  that DOC work  with the  Department of  Administration                                                              
(DOA) to provide the prisoner with an identification card.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN suggested  that  the legislature  instruct                                                              
the   commissioner   to   ensure   that  all   inmates   have   an                                                              
identification  card upon  release rather  than emphasizing  those                                                              
serving a term  that exceeds 120  days.  He sought to  clarify why                                                              
those prisoners  would need an  identification card more  than any                                                              
other prisoner.                                                                                                                 
MS. GOODE  replied it's  about timing.   She  pointed out  that it                                                              
takes several  weeks to  receive an  official identification  card                                                              
from the  DMV; therefore, DOC wouldn't  have the time to  obtain a                                                              
new ID for a prisoner who is only serving a five-day term.                                                                      
3:36:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN asked why  instruction on obtaining  state                                                              
identification is being  removed from Section 5 [page  7, lines 1-                                                              
MS. GOODE  offered her belief that  the deletion in Section  5 was                                                              
a drafting determination.                                                                                                       
3:37:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY recalled  that  legislators  were given  the                                                              
opportunity  to   experience  the   reentry  assimilation.     She                                                              
reflected on the  barriers to getting an identification  card upon                                                              
release.    Additionally,  she  pointed out  that  90  percent  of                                                              
incarcerated  individuals  reenter   the  system.    She  directed                                                              
attention  to Section  4, subparagraph  (I), on  page 6 and  asked                                                              
whether  [prisoners]   could  take  classes  and   participate  in                                                              
behavioral health  sessions, as the equipment allows,  and whether                                                              
the  department   has  adequate  resources  to   facilitate  that.                                                              
Further,  she  asked what  it  would  cost and  expressed  concern                                                              
about the zero fiscal note.                                                                                                     
MS.  GOODE stated  that  the bill  is primarily  an  authorization                                                              
bill that  grants the  authority to provide  this technology  as a                                                              
means to  deliver education.  She  conveyed that DOC  is confidant                                                              
that the  fiscal note is accurate,  adding that it could  be built                                                              
upon later.                                                                                                                     
3:39:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   EASTMAN   shared   his  understanding   that   in                                                              
subparagraph (I) [page  6, lines 20-27], the department  is asking                                                              
for statutory  approval to allow an  inmate to use a  computer for                                                              
any purpose.   He inquired about  the thought process  behind that                                                              
broad authority.                                                                                                                
MS. GOODE  explained that the  language "and  may not be  used for                                                              
any other  purpose" was removed because  it could be  confining as                                                              
technology  advances  and  more   services  become  available  via                                                              
tablet.    She  said  the  department   was  attempting  to  avoid                                                              
"[boxing  themselves]  in;"  however,  she added  that  DOC  would                                                              
understand if the  legislature chose to include  sidebars, as it's                                                              
a policy call.                                                                                                                  
3:41:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced HB 118 was held over.                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 103 Hearing Request.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Version 32-GH1675 A.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Transmittal Letter 2.17.21.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Sectional Analysis Version GH 1675 A.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB0103 Fiscal Note 1-2-021821-DHS-N.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Additional Information - HCBS Transition Plan (DHSS).pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Additional Information - Final Rule 42 CFR 441.301c.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Letter of Support - All Ways Caring.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 118 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Supporting Document - ARJP Technology in Alaska Corrections 2.5.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Version A.PDF HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Additional Info - The Case for Internet in Prisons 2.9.15.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Fiscal Note - DOC 3.17.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - Kenai Reentry - Cowgill 3.14.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - SOLO Group - Cook 2.22.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - SOLO Group - Hall 2.22.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
09 HB 103 Letter of Support - LTCO 3.16.21.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Additional Information - Final Rule 42 CFR 441.301c.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 103 Additional Information - One Page Summary by SDS.pdf HHSS 4/13/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 103
HB 118 Letter of Support - ANC Reentry Coalition - Pistotnik 3.17.21.pdf HSTA 3/18/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118