Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/14/1993 01:45 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 69 (FIN) (SEX                 
 OFFENDER REGISTRATION) sponsored by REPRESENTATIVE RAMONA                     
 BARNES and represented to the committee by DOUG WOOLIVER,                     
 Staff Attorney.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 505                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR invited MR. WOOLIVER to present the bill for                   
 HOUSE SPEAKER RAMONA BARNES.                                                  
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER reviewed the sectional analysis for CSHB 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); and providing for an effective                     
 date."                                                                        
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER explained the bill covered crimes of sexual                      
 assault in the first, second, and third degree; sexual abuse                  
 of a minor in the first, second, and third degree; promoting                  
 prostitution in the first degree; and incest and unlawful                     
 exploitation of a minor.  He also explained the bill covered                  
 crimes not only committed in Alaska but those in other                        
 jurisdictions when those persons moved to Alaska.                             
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER said a sex offender in Alaska would have seven                   
 days in which to register, and those who come to Alaska would                 
 have fourteen days in which to register.  He explained the                    
 provisions of the bill would be retroactive to January 1,                     
 1984.  Anyone convicted of two or more sex offenses would be                  
 required to register for life, and anyone with one sex offense                
 would be required to register for fifteen years.  These                       
 periods would commence after their unconditional discharge.                   
                                                                               
 In Subsection (b)(1), MR. WOOLIVER listed the information to                  
 be contained in the registration, including name, address,                    
 place of employment, date of birth, each conviction for a sex                 
 offense for which the duty to register has not terminated,                    
 date, place and court of sex offense conviction, all aliases                  
 used and driver's license number.  All of this information                    
 would be available to the public except for the offenders'                    
 finger prints, drivers license, and aliases.                                  
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER explained this bill was needed since Alaska leads                
 the nation in child sexual abuse and is second in the nation                  
 in sexual assaults, and he cited studies from California and                  
 other places which accused sex offenders of having the highest                
 recidivism rate.                                                              
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER quoted devastating statistics from various                       
 sources on the differences in sex offenders, the large number                 
 of victims, as well as investigations which concluded that                    
 rapists and child sexual abusers were more likely to be                       
 arrested for new sex crimes if they completed psychological                   
 treatment.  MR. WOOLIVER claimed therapy was deemed to be                     
 ineffective, and he quoted a study from Canada that determined                
 that sex offenders were worse after treatment.  He noted the                  
 high number of children abused by sex offenders who grew up                   
 to be sex offenders themselves.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 545                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER continued his presentation with an assessment                    
 of the pervasive aspects of the present unregistered sex                      
 offender problem in Alaska.  He said there was a lack of                      
 "handy" information on child sex offenders, and the offenders                 
 were found to be in areas where they had ready access to                      
 children.                                                                     
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER concluded his review of HB 69 by specifying the                  
 uses for the registration of sex offenders, and he referred                   
 to a California study which showed overwhelming support from                  
 law enforcement agencies as a beneficial system for aiding                    
 their jobs.  He said there were currently eighteen states with                
 sex offender registration and a couple more have registration                 
 for drug offenses as well.  He reported HB 69 was similar to                  
 registration legislation in the other states.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 577                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LITTLE questioned the constitutionally of the bill                    
 since it would increase the sentence of those persons                         
 convicted of a sex offense.                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER said this was a fair assessment and had been                     
 brought up in other courts, but it has been found the law was                 
 not punitive, but was regulatory - in most of the other cases.                
 He said this did not violate the ex facto provision of laws,                  
 and the courts in Alaska ......                                               
                                                                               
 TAPE 93-43, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 .... have addressed similar cases in the past as having a                     
 valid regulatory purpose for the law.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR LITTLE suggested there might be punitive effects.  MR.                
 WOOLIVER said she was correct, and he explained the actions                   
 of the court in this respect.  He quoted a constitutional case                
 settled by the supreme court in 1990 which has limitations to                 
 the impact on the convicted person.                                           
                                                                               
 In a series of questions, SENATOR JACKO asked about repeat                    
 offenders?  MR. WOOLIVER answered there was a difference in                   
 registration requirements.  SENATOR JACKO asked if the public                 
 disclosure provisions of the legislation were in excess of                    
 those in other states.  MR WOOLIVER'S answer included a review                
 of disclosure provisions from other states which have                         
 withstood challenge.  The right to privacy was also discussed.                
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked MR. WOOLIVER about restrictions in the                   
 dissemination of registration information.  SENATOR TAYLOR                    
 followed up with a series of questions to determine the limits                
 on the dissemination in other states.  He also asked for the                  
 specific proposed regulation in the bill to determine who has                 
 access to the information.                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER directed the committee to page 4, line 7, (b) to                 
 explain the extent of disclosure in HB 69.                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR thanked MR. WOOLIVER and invited LIZ DODD,                     
 representing the Alaska Chapter of the Civil Liberties Union,                 
 to testify.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. DODD described the dissemination of information in the                    
 State of Washington from the registry to police offices, who                  
 then decide whether or not to furnish the information.  She                   
 also explained the process of having a hearing to remove the                  
 offender's name from the registry if that person can prove                    
 they have been rehabilitated.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 071                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. DODD also described the procedures for access to the                      
 registries in other states, but she explained, under HB 69,                   
 any business person could access the registry to find out the                 
 information.  MS. DODD thought this was a problem and would                   
 not protect any children.                                                     
                                                                               
 In her prepared statement, MS. DODD said the ACLU supported                   
 the intended purpose of protecting the public from the chronic                
 sex offenders, but she thought the bill conflicted with the                   
 constitution.  She listed the concerns of the ACLU beginning                  
 with "drowning the privacy rights of persons who have served                  
 their prescribed sentence for the crime."  She objected to the                
 wide-open public disclosure provision as being excessive                      
 retribution rather than public protection.  MS. DODD thought                  
 this would be struck down by the courts and described it in                   
 terms of ex facto restrictions.                                               
                                                                               
 MS. DODD further used the constitution to protest lumping all                 
 sex offenders together for purposes of registration and for                   
 assuming that all sex offenders are chronic and predatory.                    
 She said this false assumption leads to the conclusion that                   
 no offender should be exempted from registration, even those                  
 considered treatable.                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. DODD said there would be no incentive for offenders to                    
 seek treatment, since they would be considered as an                          
 untreatable offender despite any steps they take to correct                   
 their behavior.  She described how this might lead to an                      
 increase in offenses, especially among the borderline                         
 offenders.  She contrasted this to the State of Washington                    
 where the offender can petition the court to waive                            
 registration requirements.  With this legislation, she said                   
 the first time offender would be treated as a repeat offender                 
 regardless of individual circumstances.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 108                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. DODD explained the difference in sex offenses in Alaska                   
 as being alcohol related, where rehabilitation can diminish                   
 the problem.  She further explained this wouldn't be taken                    
 into consideration in the legislation regardless of treatment                 
 or circumstances.  She claimed the registration would                         
 disproportionally impact rural Alaskans most affected by                      
 alcoholism.  MS. DODD illustrated why she thought this would                  
 be a grievous, race-biased error, and she accused HB 69 of                    
 taking the "drift-net" approach.                                              
                                                                               
 MS. DODD concluded with remarks on cruel and unusual                          
 punishment, where perpetrators could be sentenced to extended                 
 periods, or a life time, of social ostracism and on-going                     
 depravation of their basic rights as protected by the U. S.                   
 Constitution.  She described incidents of public ridicule and                 
 vigilantism used in other states.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 133                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. DODD reviewed the ACLU'S position on the provisions in the                
 legislation, HB 69, as being in conflict with the rights                      
 guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution and the Alaska State                     
 Constitution.  She said the legislation was comparable to the                 
 days of the stock and pillory in the public square - and would                
 do little to stop sex offenses.  She expressed concern that                   
 it would increase sex offenses and limit the treatment of                     
 offenders.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. DODD asked the committee to hold the bill for further                     
 evaluation of statistics in relation to similar legislation                   
 passed in other states.                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR called on PAUL NELSON from Haines.                             
                                                                               
 MR. NELSON began his testimony by questioning MR. WOOLIVER on                 
 his statistic that Alaska had six times the national rate for                 
 sex offenses and asked if that was accusations or convictions.                
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER thought they were convictions, but he wasn't                     
 completely sure.  SENATOR TAYLOR said he would find out the                   
 correct statistics and report back to the committee.                          
                                                                               
 MR. NELSON quoted from the Constitution of the United States,                 
 Section 9, that the retroactivity clause was in violation of                  
 the constitution.  He thought registration of sex offenders                   
 might be a good idea but suggested a preference for the parole                
 and probation system.  MR. NELSON said the State of Alaska did                
 not need more laws in violation of the constitution and asked                 
 that the bill not be passed from committee.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked how it violated the constitution?                        
                                                                               
 MR. NELSON quoted the constitution as saying that no law may                  
 be passed which increases the punishment for a criminal who                   
 has already been sentenced.  He said HB 69 would require                      
 people previously convicted to increase their sentence by                     
 registering.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 175                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY said it was within the police power of the                     
 state to provide public protection, and he claimed this was                   
 not a punishment for sex offenders.  It was meant for public                  
 protection purposes.  MR. NELSON disagreed and reiterated his                 
 arguments.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR suggested that MR. NELSON'S comments should be                 
 directed to MS. DODD.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked MR. NELSON for some case law on the                      
 subject, and MR. NELSON again referred to the constitution.                   
                                                                               
 MS. DODD gave an explanation from the documents she has read                  
 and concluded it was a process of public protection being                     
 weighed against the punitive nature arising from retroactive                  
 restrictions.  SENATOR TAYLOR asked MS. DODD for a written                    
 report on her information for the committee.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 209                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR next invited MARCIA MCKENZIE, Program Director                 
 for the Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault for the                 
 Department of Public Safety, to testify.                                      
                                                                               
 MS. MCKENZIE presented testimony from the council in support                  
 of HB 69, because the council feels it would deter, if not                    
 prevent, future abuses of women and children.  She quoted                     
 statistics from 1991 that the rate of sexual abuse in Alaska                  
 was more than double the nation average.  She said in 1992 the                
 rate of forcible rape rose 28% from the previous year.                        
                                                                               
 MS. MCKENZIE explained that many sex offenders were released                  
 from prison without having completed sex offender treatment,                  
 which makes for a high likelihood of recidivism.  In addition                 
 to the victimization, the cost of the recidivism is high.  She                
 thought anything that could deter this would be beneficial.                   
                                                                               
 MS. MCKENZIE asked some questions about the registration such                 
 as who would be checking on the offender.  She explained it                   
 would be helpful to the shelter programs to do background                     
 checks on potential employees.  For this reason, she said the                 
 council was supportive of the registration concept.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR LITTLE offered a conceptual amendment to allow the                    
 information only released to the law enforcement entities,                    
 with such information released to the general public at the                   
 discretion of these entities.                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked the committee staff to draw up a draft                   
 of SENATOR LITTLE'S conceptual amendment for consideration by                 
 the committee.                                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR LITTLE offered an additional conceptual amendment,                    
 similar to a provision in the Washington State law, to offer                  
 the offender the right to petition the court to waive the                     
 registration requirement.                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked ARTHUR SNOWDEN, Administrative Director                  
 for the Judicial Branch, if he wanted to testify.                             
                                                                               
 MR. SNOWDEN, in reference to the first conceptual amendment                   
 by SENATOR LITTLE, said the didn't want the court to begin                    
 sealing public documents.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 268                                                                    
                                                                               
 Next to speak was MARGO KNUTH, Asst. Attorney General,                        
 Criminal Division, for the Department of Law, who explained                   
 that the first conceptual amendment by SENATOR LITTLE might                   
 cause some tort problems for the state.  She said it would put                
 the law enforcement agencies in the position of deciding the                  
 guidelines used to make the decision as to whether disclosure                 
 is appropriate.                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO asked for additional testimony from other states                
 in which registration of sex offenders was done.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR reported from MR. WOOLIVER that other states                   
 had similar laws using a screening device.  He asked the staff                
 aide to check with MS. KNUTH in writing the amendments.                       
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER said the waiver provision was discussed in House                 
 Committees, and there were objections from those who work with                
 victims of sexual assault.  He said those in other states who                 
 could afford the lawyers to get the waiver, were sometimes the                
 worst offenders.  He said there had been a concern there would                
 be a disproportionate impact on the native population.                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO asked MR. WOOLIVER if the registration would                    
 impact the large segment of the native population that commit                 
 suicide.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MR. WOOLIVER didn't know of any studies, but did know there                   
 was a high rate of suicide among the victims of sexual abuse.                 
 He quoted testimony from other committees that there wasn't                   
 a higher percentage of sex offenders, but he offered to do                    
 some research.                                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO asked whether there could be the option of                      
 electrocution rather than being registered as an offender.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR said there being no more questions, testimony                  
 on HB 69 would be tabled for another meeting.                                 

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