Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

04/27/2021 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved HB 102 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved HB 157 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
         HB 118-EXPANDING PRISONER ACCESS TO COMPUTERS                                                                      
3:56:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the next 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."                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS,  prime sponsor  of  HB  118, reminded  the                                                               
committee that the  proposed legislation had been  amended in the                                                               
previous  hearing  [4/1/21];  however, after  conversations  with                                                               
committee members  and additional  collaboration between  his and                                                               
Representative  Vance's  offices,  he   would  be  reopening  the                                                               
amendment process.                                                                                                              
3:57:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  moved to adopt  [Amendment 1],  labeled 32-                                                               
LS0024\B.6, Radford, 4/19/21, which read:                                                                                       
     Page 6, line 26, following "care":                                                                                     
          Insert "but may not be used to directly access                                                                    
      the Internet by computer terminal or other automated                                                                  
     means not requiring the assistance of or intervention                                                                  
     by another person"                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected.                                                                                                 
3:58:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE thanked  the  chair  for accommodating  her                                                               
questions and  concerns.  She  conveyed that she had  spoken with                                                               
the  Department  of Corrections  (DOC)  about  its intention  for                                                               
providing access to  computers.  She explained  that the proposed                                                               
amendment  specified that  inmates  may not  directly access  the                                                               
Internet, indicating  that the computers  would only  be utilized                                                               
for rehabilitation and the purposes  specifically outlined in the                                                               
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  attested  to Representative  Vance's  work                                                               
with the department [on Amendment 1].                                                                                           
3:59:27 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
3:59:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS   noted  that   the  department   would  be                                                               
available  shortly.   He said  he  could relay  both written  and                                                               
verbal  correspondence that  confirmed  that  the department  was                                                               
aware of Amendment 1 and had no objection to it.                                                                                
4:00:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN   directed   attention  to   Section   4,                                                               
subparagraph  (I),  on   page  6  of  HB   118,  which  addressed                                                               
prisoners'  access  to  computers  and  specified  the  rules  of                                                               
compliance.    He  asked  why   that  subsection  needed  further                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE indicated  that the goal of  Amendment 1 was                                                               
to establish consistency across  every correctional agency rather                                                               
than each facility abiding by different criteria.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN   expressed    concern   that   different                                                               
facilities  would  have different  needs  and  that the  proposed                                                               
language  would   restrict  their  ability  to   make  reasonable                                                               
decisions regarding the appropriate access for each facility.                                                                   
4:01:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE relayed  that the  language in  Amendment 1                                                               
was  written  by [DOC]  to  capture  their intent  for  providing                                                               
computer  access,  such  as  employment,   and  education.    She                                                               
understood  that the  proposed language  would not  prohibit "the                                                               
activities that they feel that they need moving forward."                                                                       
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS inquired  about  the  agency's position  on                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
4:03:24 PM                                                                                                                    
LAURA  BROOKS, Division  Operations Manager,  Division of  Health                                                               
and Rehab Services, DOC, explained  that concerns had been raised                                                               
about  how  inmates might  access  the  internet; therefore,  the                                                               
language in Amendment  1 was intending to clarify  that there may                                                               
be occasions in which an  offender could access the internet, but                                                               
only with staff  supervision.  She considered the  example of the                                                               
electronic Medicaid  application process,  adding that  an inmate                                                               
would only  be eligible to  do that under the  direct supervision                                                               
of a  staff member.   Otherwise,  the computers/tablets  would be                                                               
channeled through a  secure platform that would  not allow direct                                                               
access to the Internet.                                                                                                         
4:04:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  understood that  the existing  language in                                                               
subsection (I)  provided DOC with  the authority to  regulate the                                                               
allowable access.  He asked whether Ms. Brooks agreed.                                                                          
MS. BROOKS said, "That's correct."                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  concluded that in  the past, the  goal was                                                               
to limit  computer access in  prisons; however, as time  went on,                                                               
the lack of computer access  in prisons hurt the inmates' ability                                                               
to engage  in reform  programs.  He  maintained his  concern that                                                               
the   language  in   the  proposed   amendment  regarding   staff                                                               
supervision may  not be necessary  in the future due  to advances                                                               
in technology.  He said he  could understand some of the interest                                                               
in this  precaution today but  given the slowness with  which the                                                               
legislature  made  adaptations to  realities  on  the ground,  he                                                               
believed the language in Amendment  1 would be overly restrictive                                                               
going forward.   He opined that presently,  staff supervision was                                                               
an  appropriate  inclusion  under  subsection  (I);  however,  by                                                               
requiring  it  in  statute,  DOC  would not  be  able  to  easily                                                               
dispense with it.                                                                                                               
MS. BROOKS acknowledged his concern  about tying the department's                                                               
hands.  However,  she said she could not foresee  a time when DOC                                                               
would  provide inmates  with access  to the  Internet due  to the                                                               
potential of  them accessing  victims.   She believed  that given                                                               
the  anticipated programming,  the  language in  Amendment 1  was                                                               
appropriate  because it  would allow  the  department to  provide                                                               
supervision  when  an  inmate needed  access  to  something  that                                                               
required internet access.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN   questioned  what  would  happen   if  an                                                               
application for  benefits required internet access.   He surmised                                                               
that the  language in Amendment  1 would require that  the inmate                                                               
be supervised while filling out the application.                                                                                
MS.  BROOKS  confirmed  that  it  would  require  that  level  of                                                               
4:08:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked why DOC  would object to  an inmate                                                               
having  access  to the  internet  aside  from the  concern  about                                                               
contacting victims.                                                                                                             
MS. BROOKS  said there were  many security concerns that  she did                                                               
not  want to  mention  publicly.   She  conveyed that  primarily,                                                               
allowing internet  access would be  a serious breach  of security                                                               
due to the massive amount of information available online.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE   EASTMAN  asked   whether   the  department   was                                                               
concerned that in five years,  inmates would have increased tools                                                               
and techniques for  hacking and could misuse  the internet access                                                               
should they ever achieve it.                                                                                                    
MS.  BROOKS replied,  "That's probably  always a  concern."   She                                                               
reiterated  that the  department  wanted to  ensure  that if  the                                                               
tablets were  used for accessing  the Internet, the  access would                                                               
be well supervised.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  inquired about "the  intervention," which                                                               
was referenced in Amendment 1.                                                                                                  
MS. BROOKS stated that the  intervention would be a "side-by-side                                                               
review," meaning  that a medical  social worker  or institutional                                                               
probation  officer  would  sit   with  the  inmate  while  he/she                                                               
completed the paperwork.                                                                                                        
4:11:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN  asked whether the  language "intervention                                                               
by another person" was too broad.                                                                                               
MS. BROOKS  acknowledged that possibility.   She  reiterated that                                                               
the department's goal was to  make the proposed legislation safe;                                                               
therefore, if  the committee felt  that the wording needed  to be                                                               
adjusted,  DOC  would  not  object.     She  explained  that  the                                                               
department wanted  to ensure that  the use [of tablets]  would be                                                               
available  for the  intended purpose  of rehabilitation  and that                                                               
they would be protected and confined to only that purpose.                                                                      
4:12:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS expressed his  surprise that there seemed to                                                               
be a  sense that DOC did  not recognize the obvious:  that no one                                                               
wanted  inmates contacting  victims.   He  assured the  committee                                                               
that if a victim were to  be contacted, the commissioner would be                                                               
replaced, as  it would be  a career-ending public  relations (PR)                                                               
story.  He emphasized that  Ms. Brooks and Commissioner Dahlstrom                                                               
knew that,  and the committee should  know that too.   He pointed                                                               
out  that the  verbiage  could be  endlessly  litigated, but  the                                                               
commonsense understanding should be  the accepted assumption that                                                               
there  would  be  no  circumstance   in  which  DOC  would  allow                                                               
prisoners to freely  communicate with victims or  anyone else via                                                               
the Internet.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN said he had no  distrust in his heart.  He                                                               
explained that he  had wanted to know  whether additional wording                                                               
would clarify the amendment.                                                                                                    
4:14:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  referenced a letter from  the American Civil                                                               
Liberties  Union  (ACLU) of  Alaska  [included  in the  committee                                                               
packet], which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                            
     Providing meaningful  access to technology  is arguably                                                                    
     more important  than establishing  statutory permission                                                                    
     to do  so.  There is,  for instance, nothing in  HB 118                                                                    
     to require  DOC to meet certain  standards for computer                                                                    
     access,  and nothing  to  permit  DOC from  arbitrarily                                                                    
     restricting access to computers.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   highlighted  the  importance   of  reentry                                                               
services for successful reintegration  in the community; further,                                                               
she  said  [reentry  services] were  deeply  meaningful  for  the                                                               
continuation  of addiction  treatment, for  example.   She shared                                                               
her understanding  that the proposed legislation  would provide a                                                               
critical service.   She believed  that on one end,  access should                                                               
be restricted to  protect victims, while on the  other end, there                                                               
should  be  meaningful  access  to allow  for  the  provision  of                                                               
services and the  best opportunity for success  upon release into                                                               
the community.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS concurred.                                                                                                 
4:15:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  thanked  DOC   for  collaborating  on  the                                                               
language in  Amendment 1.   She  explained that  her goal  was to                                                               
clarify the statutory  intent for legal matters  and to "maintain                                                               
the public trust."   She believed that  the legislature's primary                                                               
obligation was to  ensure the public's safety  and that providing                                                               
rehabilitation came  second to that;  further, she said  that the                                                               
legislature lived  in the middle  ground of providing both.   She                                                               
stated that  she wanted to make  it clear to the  public that the                                                               
intent  was not  to allow  unbridled access  to the  internet and                                                               
that computer access would be specific to reentry needs.                                                                        
4:17:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  opposed the language  in Amendment 1.   He                                                               
believed that  the intent  was well-taken  but that  the language                                                               
was confusing.   He said he  had great confidence that  DOC would                                                               
only approve what was appropriate  and that the existing language                                                               
in HB  118 provided all the  necessary direction.  He  added that                                                               
he completely agreed with the  chair's comments and believed that                                                               
it would be  a mistake to include restrictions  that would hinder                                                               
the   already  challenging   efforts  of   rehabilitation.     He                                                               
reiterated that  he did not  support Amendment 1 because  DOC had                                                               
all  the necessary  authority to  restrict access;  further, that                                                               
the department already  did that exceptionally well.   He further                                                               
noted that  under the  Constitution of the  State of  Alaska, one                                                               
purpose for  criminal justice administration was  not higher than                                                               
other.   He added that  rehabilitation was one of  several goals,                                                               
all  of  which  were  to be  balanced  equally  or  appropriately                                                               
depending on the circumstances of the person, victim, or crime.                                                                 
CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS   considered   the   scenario   posed   by                                                               
Representative  Claman in  which  the platform  would only  allow                                                               
access to one  URL, such as the Medicaid  enrollment website, and                                                               
there  would be  zero percent  chance of  contacting a  victim or                                                               
performing  other  nefarious  activity.    He  asked  Ms.  Brooks                                                               
whether an inmate  would be directly supervised  in that scenario                                                               
if accessing  that one  URL was  in was in  the best  interest of                                                               
his/her rehabilitation or reform.                                                                                               
MS. BROOKS  believed that it  was the department's first  duty to                                                               
protect  the  public and  that  rehabilitation  and reentry  fell                                                               
below that.  She said if  the committee wanted to make changes to                                                               
the wording  it would be  a policy  call.  She  reemphasized that                                                               
DOC would  protect the public  to the  best of its  ability while                                                               
providing this computer access.                                                                                                 
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  pointed  out that  in  the  aforementioned                                                               
scenario there  would be  a zero  percent chance  of jeopardizing                                                               
public safety  because of the technical  platform being utilized.                                                               
He  asked  whether  direct  supervision would  be  ideal  if  the                                                               
inmates were  doing something for their  reform or rehabilitation                                                               
and the risk was mitigated to zero.                                                                                             
MS. BROOKS said having staff  supervise that type of access would                                                               
be the safest  route.  She said  she did not know  if there could                                                               
ever  be  a  zero  percent chance  [of  risk];  therefore,  staff                                                               
supervision  would  be  required  to mitigate  as  much  risk  as                                                               
4:22:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN, recalling his  previous experience in law                                                               
enforcement,  said he  didn't know  that  there would  ever be  a                                                               
warden  or  prison  supervisor  who  would be  able  to  make  an                                                               
affirmation  of  zero  percent  risk.   He  said  that  level  of                                                               
certainty was not realistic with today's technology.                                                                            
4:23:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKIN believed  that ultimately,  it came  down to                                                               
how much  [the legislature] trusted DOC  to do its job  well.  He                                                               
added  that he  trusted  the department's  personnel to  evaluate                                                               
those risks.  He announced that HB 118 was held over.                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 163 Letter of Support - Continental Auto Group 4.11.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Letter of Support - State Farm 4.22.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Letter of Support - Alaska USA Federal Credit Union 04-12-2021.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Letter of Support - True North FCU 4.9.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Hearing Request - H STA 4.14.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Version A.PDF HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Fiscal Note - DOA - DMV 4.10.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 163 Letter of Support - Alaska Credit Union League 04-09-2021.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 163
HB 102 Fiscal Note - DOA 4.8.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 102
HB 102 Response to Questions - DOA-DRM 4.13.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 102
HB 157 Fiscal Note - DOA 4.9.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 157
HB157 Additional Info - Response to STA 4.25.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 157
HB 118 Letter of Support - UA UAF Lit Council 4.22.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 5 Fiscal Note - DPS 3.23.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Letters of Opposition - 4.26.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Fiscal Note - DOL 3.19.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Letters of Support 4.26.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Additional Info - Age and Offender Tabe for SAM 1 and SAM 2 - Tarr 4.22.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Additional Info - Consent Tabular Analysis - Tarr 4.23.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Additional Info - Felony Cases Filed with Sex Offense Charges - AK Court System 4.25.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Additional Info - Felony Sex Offenses Report - Tarr 4.22.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Fiscal Note - DOA 3.23.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Fiscal Note - DOC 3.22.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Amendment G.1 - Eastman 4.20.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Amendment G.4 - Vance 4.26.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 5 Amendment G.5 - Vance 4.26.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5
HB 118 Amendment B.6 - Vance 4.19.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 5 Amendment G.6 - Tarr 4.27.21.pdf HSTA 4/27/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 5