Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/28/1993 02:55 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 69(FIN) An Act relating to registration of and information about sex offenders and amending Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c) and 32(b). Co-chair Pearce directed that CSHB 69 (Fin) be brought on for discussion. DOUG WOOLIVER, attorney, House Majority Office, came before committee. He explained that the legislation would require persons convicted of various sex crimes to register with either the Alaska State Troopers or municipal police departments. Crimes covered by the law include: sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, promoting prostitution, incest, and unlawful exploitation of a minor. The registration requirement would not only cover those convicted in Alaska but those with convictions who come to Alaska from elsewhere. Locals have seven days within which to register while those from outside Alaska have fourteen days. The registration requirement would be retroactive to 1984. Individuals with two or more sex offense convictions would be required to comply with registration requirements for life while those with a single offense would be required to register for fifteen years. Mr. Wooliver next listed information that would have to be provided to law enforcement authorities at the time of registration. With the exception of fingerprints, driver's license, and aliases used, all information would be available to the public. Mr. Wooliver noted that Alaska leads nationally in instances of child sexual abuse (six times the national average). The state is second, nationally, in terms of sexual assault. Sex offenders have a high recidivism rate. One out of five will subsequently be re-arrested. Sources indicate that sex offenders are not like other criminals. They are "almost impervious" to the benefits of therapy. A number of states have discontinued treatment programs since studies in Ontario and Minnesota indicated that those who participated in them actually committed more violent crimes than those who did not receive treatment. A 1983 Iowa study found that the average number of sexual assaults committed against children by each offender was 167. The average number of child victims was 76. Because of the high rate of sex offenses in Alaska and the high rate of recidivism, it is important for employers and others to have access to information regarding offenders in order to protect themselves and their children. Mr. Wooliver attested to present lack of information on offenders from other states. He stressed that an additional benefit of the bill would be enhanced ability of law enforcement to locate sex offenders if they become suspects in additional crimes. Eighteen states currently have similar sex offender registration laws. CSHB 69 (Finance) is similar to legislation from other states except that it provides greater public protection by making registration information more accessible to the public. C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Public Safety, next came before committee. He voiced support for the legislation since registration would serve as a deterrent to offenders and provide an additional resource for law enforcement personnel. He further attested to the substantial number of victims involved in crimes perpetrated by sex offenders. CINDY SMITH, Executive Director, Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, came before committee, voicing support for the bill. She noted that over the past two years, forcible rape of adult women in Alaska has increased 91%. In 1992, 530 women reported rape to the police. There were 700 confirmed reports of child sexual abuse the same year. Treatment personnel who track offenders following release from prison indicate that recidivism is approximately 80%. Treatment staff supports the legislation, believing that community awareness and monitoring of sex offender behavior has potential to reduce that recidivism. Ms. Smith stressed that unlike other criminals, sex offenders do not become less dangerous over time. Senator Kerttula noted that the fiscal note appears to be modest and asked if sufficient financial resources were being directed toward the effort. Mr. Swackhammer indicated that requested funding would get the program going. Senator Kerttula MOVED for passage of CSHB 96 (Finance) with individual recommendation. Senator Kelly posed a question regarding the 14-day registration requirement for offenders from outside Alaska. Mr. Wooliver acknowledged substantial discussion of a 30-day period. The universal complaint was that the time period was too long. Many people come to Alaska to fish or work in the fishing industry. Under the longer time period, "They have enough time to fish and spend their whole summer there and then leave without registering." The shorter time is consistent with most states. Senator Kelly reiterated concern that 14 days is too short a time period. He stressed that the bill should cover the offender who seeks to establish residency in Alaska. Senator Sharp concurred in concern regarding the shorter period, noting that an individual does not become a resident until he or she has been in the state for 30 days. Mr. Wooliver read a list of time frames from other states ranging from 24 hours to 30 days. Senator Rieger inquired regarding the penalty for failure to register. Mr. Wooliver said that it was a Class A misdemeanor (up to a year in prison). Senator Kerttula restated his MOTION for passage. He noted difficulties associated with application of law in multi- cultural communities and states. No objection to passage having been raised, CSHB 69 (Finance) was REPORTED OUT of committee with a $86.5 fiscal note from the Dept. of Public Safety, two zero notes from the Dept. of Administration (Public Advocacy and Public Defender) and zero notes from the Dept. of Corrections and the Dept. of Law. All members present signed the committee report "no rec." Senators Kelly and Jacko were absent and did not sign.