Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/26/1994 05:55 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 276: An Act relating to criminal justice information; providing procedural requirements for obtaining certain criminal justice information; and providing for an effective date. The committee ADOPTED CSSB 276(FIN) work draft dated February 16, 1994 which incorporated Senate Judiciary Committee amendments of February 15, 1994. Dean J. Guaneli, Chief, Legal Services Section, Criminal Division, Department of Law, testified in support of SB 276, and offered amendment 1 which replaced wording for mandatory fingerprinting. Discussion followed between Co- chairs Pearce, Frank, Senators Kerttula, Kelly, Rieger, and Sharp regarding various aspects of the bill. Duncan Fowler, Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman, spoke in support of SB 276. Amendment 1 was ADOPTED. Senators Rieger, Kerttula and Kelly agreed to form a subcommittee to propose amendments on issues discussed. CSSB 276(FIN) work draft as amended was HELD in committee until March 12, 1994 or until the subcommittee proposes a new work draft. SENATE BILL NO. 276 An Act relating to criminal justice information; providing procedural requirements for obtaining certain criminal justice information; and providing for an effective date. CO-CHAIR PEARCE invited Dean J. Guaneli, Chief, Legal Services Section, Criminal Division, Department of Law, to speak to SB 276. DEAN GUANELI said that for a number of years it had been recognized that the state statutes relating to criminal justice information systems, providing safeguards and oversight over those systems, were in need of amendment. He noted that the legislative auditor, the Division of Legislative Legal Services, and consultants with the Department of Public Safety had recommended changes. SB 276 was a product of several years of effort to provide oversight over criminal justice information systems, to set guidelines of how the information in those computer systems would be disseminated, and to make other changes to the system that were needed to provide adequate and comprehensive records. He informed the committee that, at the present time, no state statute required an individual under arrest to be fingerprinted. In a large number of instances, fingerprints were not taken. He said the only way to have an accurate information system, which keeps track of criminal history records, was to link those records to fingerprints. This bill mandated that fingerprints be taken and if for some reason a person bypassed the first process, it mandated they be taken at the next stage of the process. Mr. Guaneli felt that the need for this legislation was also made clear by federal legislation. The Brady Bill was on example. He felt strongly that if criminal history records were going to be given out - they should be accurate. The FBI had criminal standards for criminal justice information systems and those standards had been followed in SB 276. He pointed out that there had been a separate bill going through Senate Judiciary Committee that addressed fingerprinting requirements only, and more simply and directly than SB 276. From that bill, he had drafted a finger-printing provision preferable to the section in SB 276 in the form of amendment 1, and offered it to the committee for consideration. Co-chair Pearce reminded the committee that when SB 276 had been received in the Senate Finance Committee that the Senate Judiciary Committee had passed SB 276 with an amendment dated February 15, 1994, without drafting a CS. She directed the members' attention to CSSB 276(FIN) work draft dated February 16, 1994 that did incorporate those Senate Judiciary amendments. Co-chair Frank MOVED for adoption of CSSB 276(FIN) work draft dated February 16, 1994 for discussion purposes. No objection being heard, it was ADOPTED. Discussion was had by Senators Kerttula and Kelly regarding the fiscal notes attached to the bill. Senator Kelly asked if the fiscal note for the Department of Corrections in the amount of $181,874 would include staffing requirements required SB 276. Since there was not a representative from the Department of Corrections, Co-chair Pearce requested the department to provide that information to the committee. Senator Kelly asked if the amendment now incorporated in CSSB 276(FIN) work draft would effect the Department of Corrections fiscal note. Senator Kelly asked what fiscal effect amendment 1 would have on SB 276. Mr. Guaneli said that the Department of Corrections already required that everyone brought into their facilities be fingerprinted. In some instances, however, individuals were being missed, and this legislation would tighten up procedures. He said the Department of Corrections did not anticipate any significant increase in the number of fingerprints taken, and therefore did not believe there would be a fiscal impact. He believed there might be a slight impact on local police agencies, but admitted it was hard to assess. The bill had the backing of the Alaska Association of the Chiefs of Police because they realized fingerprinting requirements, although a small burden, was necessary in order to provide an accurate criminal justice information system. Mr. Guaneli felt that SB 276 established a framework to improve the information systems that currently exist. Efforts were underway to link existing systems scattered among the departments and make them more efficient. This bill would also establish a board consisting of commissioners from effected departments to oversee that effort. Senator Kerttula said this system was going to cost money. He objected to fiscal notes that did not lay out the complete cost. Mr. Guaneli said he would like to point out that the improvements in this bill would be supported partially by federal funding. If this legislation is in place, the Department of Safety could take advantage of federal funding and federal information systems. Mr. Guaneli did admit the state would have some expenses in setting up the new framework. In answer to Senator Rieger, regarding page 4, lines 12-14, stating that the commissioner could exempt certain persons from the fingerprinting requirements, Mr. Guaneli said it was intended to prevent certain circumstances where fingerprints would have to be taken repetitively. Senator Rieger asked if the provision requiring fingerprinting to be done within 24 hours was always practical, and could it cause any kind of "Miranda rights" allowing a person to go free if the fingerprints were not taken. Mr. Guaneli felt the 24-hour requirement was reasonable and if it did not happen, technically an arrest warrant could be issued. More practically, when the person appeared in court, the judge would probably order fingerprints taken at that time. He did not believe it could cause a person to be set free. However, he believed if a person was arrested again and had not been fingerprinted the first time, their offense could be treated as a first rather than a second offense. In answer to Senator Rieger, Mr. Guaneli voiced his opinion that it was reasonable for regulations to be adopted, people to be trained, and the advisory board to be formed in order to make policy decisions by the July 1, 1994 effective date. DUNCAN FOWLER, Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman, testified in support of SB 276. He said the Office of the Ombudsman had been interested in this legislation for the past three years. He felt it was an important piece of policy legislation that insured the integrity of the criminal justice system records, enabled citizens to correct errors in their criminal records, and most importantly, defined rules for the collection, access and use of criminal justice information. It would also set out penalties for the abuse of information which was not addressed now. He said over the past few years, one to two serious complaints a year had been filed regarding the misuse of criminal justice information. He believed some of them were serious enough, if this framework had been in place, to have been prosecuted. He reiterated that he supported SB 276 and felt it would significantly assist the state in tying up loose ends in this area. Senator Kerttula said that California was using fingerprinting to detect welfare fraud. Senator Rieger asked if Senator Kerttula was suggesting an amendment to SB 276. Senator Kerttula agreed that he would not be opposed to it. CHIP THOMA, testifying as a private citizen, spoke in support of SB 276. He said that in 1972 he worked with the late Senator Terry Miller on previous legislation SB 378 and SJR 9 on the right to privacy. He said legislative history and the public's perception of the possible misuse of police records supported the reasoning for this legislation. He urged the committee's support of SB 276. Co-chair Pearce asked the committee's will on amendment 1. Mr. Guaneli again spoke to the amendment. Senator Sharp MOVED for the conceptual adoption of amendment 1 by Mr. Guaneli. No objection having been raised, the amendment was ADOPTED for incorporation within a new Finance Committee Substitute for the bill. In answer to Senator Rieger, regarding page 8, provisions on how criminal justice information may be released, Mr. Guaneli said that there were no specific provisions, but at this time it was done occasionally on a case by case basis. Mr. Guaneli said these new provisions were recommendations made several years ago by consultants to the Department of Public Safety in a report that had found its way into SB 276. Senator Kerttula voiced his concern over privacy abuse issues in those provisions. Mr. Guaneli said that the preface for the entire section declared criminal justice information confidential. That provision did not currently exist. In addition, the United States Supreme Court had interpreted the law to say that information within criminal justice information systems (computerized data bases) involve some questions of privacy even when all that was kept are public records and convictions. If anything more than statistics were given out, such as names and dates, the law recognized this as confidential information. He felt it was a good idea to have protections on this information. He spoke of an instance where records were requested for members of the ethic's committee and the department asked the members to sign a waiver. This helped the department realize from time to time the legislature would request such information. In answer to Senator Rieger, Mr. Guaneli said current offender information refers to someone who was currently charged with an offense, was moving their way through the criminal justice information system, or was under the supervision of the system (someone in prison, etc.). Senator Rieger asked if a request could be made for a list of individuals who had been convicted of a felony in the last ten years. Mr. Guaneli said that this legislation allowed the Department of Safety to charge a fee for that service. He said that at the present the courts were not linked by any computer system. Those records were kept within the Department of Public Safety and were public. Senator Rieger said that a blanket release of past criminal offenses or past convictions which would include misdemeanors made him very uncomfortable. Senator Kelly voiced similar concerns. Senators Sharp and Kelly asked for clarification on the fiscal note for the Department of Corrections regarding overtime for training and the length of the training. Co-chair Pearce asked Senator Rieger to chair a subcommittee which included Senators Kelly and Kerttula. She announced that SB 276 would be HELD in committee until March 12, 1994, or until the subcommittee proposed a new work draft.