Legislature(1993 - 1994)

05/06/1993 02:35 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD) am                   
 the sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER, to testify.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER reviewed the work of the Sentencing                      
 Commission to relieve prison overcrowding and the high cost                   
 of our prison system.  She said one of the recommendations was                
 the day fine idea embodied in HB 119, and she explained some                  
 background information on the successful use of day fines by                  
 other states; however,it has not been used previously in                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained judges, in misdemeanor cases,                  
 would have an additional sentencing option for those cases for                
 which the judges feel it would be appropriate.  A day fine is                 
 a percentage of daily income, and she explained it as a                       
 sliding scale approach to paying a fine.  She reminded the                    
 committee there were over 2000 misdemeanants waiting to do                    
 time in the State of Alaska.  She explained how it would                      
 relieve prison overcrowding and increase the fines paid to the                
 State of Alaska.                                                              
 SENATOR LITTLE clarified the bill would apply mostly to lower                 
 class misdemeanors, and REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained it                     
 would apply to only those misdemeanors that were considered                   
 non-person crimes - only property crimes.                                     
 SENATOR TAYLOR called on MR. SNOWDEN, who wished to testify                   
 MR. SNOWDEN, Administrative Director for the Court System,                    
 explained that the Court System, apart from the Sentencing                    
 Commission, had been working on the concept of day fines and                  
 has produced a large report on their findings.  He indicated                  
 day fines were being used in many European Countries, and many                
 states were using day fines for 70% of their crimes.                          
 MR. SNOWDEN said, if the judges were not able to use day                      
 fines, there will be tremendous jail problems.  He explained                  
 it helped the poor and rural in Alaska.  He said the rich                     
 would pay and big fines would not be assigned to poor people                  
 who can't afford them.                                                        
 MR. SNOWDEN explained presently the Sixth & C Street jail,                    
 which is for misdemeanors, has been closed four times in the                  
 last month.  He said the judges of this state are frustrated                  
 and want to be able to use the jail facilities for truly                      
 violent people.  He said it will take about a year for the                    
 judges to put the day fine system together, and if it doesn't                 
 pass this year, it would be two more years before there could                 
 be any relief.                                                                
 In his final plea, MR. SNOWDEN stressed it was something                      
 needed by the judges to stop the overcrowding of the jails.                   
 SENATOR LITTLE move to pass CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD) am                 
 from committee with individual recommendations.  Without                      
 objections, so ordered.                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects