Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/17/1999 01:45 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          SB 1-NO MANDATORY PAROLE RELEASE WITHOUT GED                                                                          
SENATOR DONLEY explained the proposed committee substitute                                                                      
addresses SENATOR HALFORD's concern about people who may be unable                                                              
to attain educational requirements. The bill allows the                                                                         
Commissioner of the Department of Corrections discretion to certify                                                             
that it is not reasonable for certain people to meet the standard.                                                              
Those people would then be excused from the requirements. The                                                                   
committee substitute also includes a provision that makes a person                                                              
ineligible for the program where the program is not offered by the                                                              
Number 468                                                                                                                      
SENATOR HALFORD moved the adoption of the committee substitute for                                                              
SB 1. Without objection, the committee substitute was adopted.                                                                  
MR. BRUCE RICHARDS, representing the Department of Corrections,                                                                 
said the Department has a minor technical amendment to the                                                                      
committee substitute. The Department would also like the committee                                                              
to consider making the GED a mandatory requirement of parole,                                                                   
rather than a condition for receiving good time. This would remove                                                              
the burden of providing the program from the Department and put the                                                             
responsibility and cost of the program on the offender. MR.                                                                     
RICHARDS said the Department would encourage people to start the                                                                
program while incarcerated and inform them that attaining a GED                                                                 
would be a mandatory condition of parole. This would reduce the                                                                 
Department of Corrections' fiscal note and is likely to also reduce                                                             
the fiscal note from the Department of Law, while still                                                                         
accomplishing the goal of increasing the educational level of                                                                   
Number 427                                                                                                                      
MR. MICHAEL STARK, representing the Department of Law, testified                                                                
the Department supports MR. RICHARDS' idea as a less costly and                                                                 
problematic way to accomplish the goals of SB 99.                                                                               
MR. STARK suggested on page 2 of the bill, lines 1 and 25, the word                                                             
"certify" be replaced with the word "determine". He explained                                                                   
certify connotes some kind of official action that does not exist.                                                              
He also suggested a change on page 3, line 10 and 11: make the                                                                  
effective date apply to "persons whose crimes are committed on or                                                               
after the effective date. He explained the court now bases  its                                                                 
analysis on the date a person's crime is committed, not the date of                                                             
Number 400                                                                                                                      
SENATOR DONLEY moved, as Amendment #1, to insert the word                                                                       
"committed" after the word "crimes" on line 11, page 3. Without                                                                 
objection, Amendment #1 was adopted.                                                                                            
SENATOR DONLEY moved, as Amendment #2, replacing the word                                                                       
"certifies" on page 2, lines 1 and 25, with the word "determines".                                                              
Without objection, Amendment #2 was adopted.                                                                                    
Number 393                                                                                                                      
SENATOR ELLIS asked for an explanation of how the Commissioner                                                                  
would excuse some people from educational requirements without                                                                  
opening the Department to litigation based on unequal treatment of                                                              
some groups of prisoners. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR restated the same                                                                     
question, asking "Is there an equal protection problem here?"  MR.                                                              
STARK replied it is an issue, but he believes a "rational basis"                                                                
argument can be made against an equal protection challenge.                                                                     
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented, "There would at least be an objective                                                                
standard . . ." MR. STARK agreed.                                                                                               
Number 371                                                                                                                      
SENATOR HALFORD stated for the record, "This committee believes it                                                              
is an objective standard and it should be applied in an objective                                                               
manner . . . the Administration, if they have any problems doing                                                                
that, they should come back to us, as it is our expectation that it                                                             
be applied in a manner that is constitutional." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR                                                                 
asked if there was objection to that statement. SENATOR ELLIS said                                                              
"We are making an attempt to make it an objective standard, but it                                                              
is by its nature subjective . . . that may be our opinion, but I                                                                
don't know that is fact." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR clarified, "It is the                                                                 
intent of this committee . . . this would be an objective standard                                                              
applied without violating equal protection . . ."                                                                               
MR. STARK assumed the committee had no interest in MR. RICHARDS'                                                                
proposal. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he'd prefer to see inmates attain                                                                
these educational requirements as early as possible, though he                                                                  
realizes this will increase the cost to the State.                                                                              
Number 346                                                                                                                      
SENATOR DONLEY noted that, if the bill was changed and an inmate                                                                
failed to attain their GED, a Public Defender would be required to                                                              
represent them at a parole revocation hearing. MR. STARK affirmed                                                               
this is true.                                                                                                                   
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if there was further testimony on CSSB
1(JUD). There was none.                                                                                                         
Number 330                                                                                                                      
SENATOR DONLEY moved CSSB 1(JUD) with individual recommendations                                                                
and the accompanying fiscal notes. Without objection, CSSB 1(JUD)                                                               
moved from committee.                                                                                                           

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