Legislature(2007 - 2008)BELTZ 211

04/23/2007 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 150 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 78(JUD) Out of Committee
          SB 150-CRIMES AT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTERS                                                                       
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 150.                                                                             
1:33:04 PM                                                                                                                    
DONNIE FLEAGLE, Legislative Intern to Senator Davis, relayed                                                                    
that SB 150 is in response to an event at the Juneau AWARE                                                                      
Center. She stated the following:                                                                                               
     Domestic   violence   is    a   serious,   significant,                                                                    
     preventable public health  challenge for Alaska. Alaska                                                                    
     has the  distinction of  being in  the top  five states                                                                    
     for per  capita domestic  violence rates.  And Alaska's                                                                    
     women are  being killed by  their partners at  the rate                                                                    
     of  1.5  times the  national  average.  In 2005  Alaska                                                                    
     shelters provided services to 8,793 clients.                                                                               
     This bill will  not solve this social  ill. However, it                                                                    
     will bring attention to  protecting victims of domestic                                                                    
     violence and  will serve to  draw the  general public's                                                                    
     attention  to  the  need  for  social  change  and  the                                                                    
     responsibility we  all have as citizens  to protect the                                                                    
     most vulnerable of populations.                                                                                            
     Over time this learned behavior  will change when it is                                                                    
     generally  known  that  such  behavior  can  result  in                                                                    
     additional time spent  incarcerated. Anchorage has seen                                                                    
     that over time  rape is committed without the  use of a                                                                    
     weapon  because it  is known  that should  a weapon  be                                                                    
     used, the  stakes go up considerably.  This legislation                                                                    
     will give courts the ability  to impose additional time                                                                    
     above and beyond the  presumptive sentence for felonies                                                                    
     committed on  the premises of  a shelter or  a facility                                                                    
     providing services  to victims of domestic  violence or                                                                    
     sexual assault.                                                                                                            
     Passage of SB  150 provides a tool that can  be used to                                                                    
     send a  message that  crimes committed on  the premises                                                                    
     of  a  shelter  or  a facility  providing  services  to                                                                    
     victims  of domestic  violence  or  sexual assault  are                                                                    
     deserving  of  the  maximum allowable  punishment.  And                                                                    
     that   the  safety   that  is   expected  in   such  an                                                                    
     environment will be enforced and respected.                                                                                
     The language in this  bill was left purposefully broad,                                                                    
     allowing the  courts of each jurisdiction  to determine                                                                    
     the definition  of facilities and  services. If  such a                                                                    
     word  as "residential"  were to  be inserted,  it would                                                                    
     eliminate STAR,  a rape crisis  center. It is  not tied                                                                    
     to particular  facilities or services.  Victims receive                                                                    
     services   in  other   places  and   are  entitled   to                                                                    
     protection. In  rural Alaska there are  recognized safe                                                                    
     homes, which do  not receive funds from  the Council on                                                                    
     Domestic Violence. In this  instance, again, the courts                                                                    
     determine the definitions.                                                                                                 
1:36:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked how other states address the issue.                                                                       
MS. FLEAGLE said Minnesota statute  makes it a gross misdemeanor,                                                               
but  it  does  not  add   aggravating  factors.  She  called  the                                                               
Department   of  Justice   and   reviewed   the  National   Crime                                                               
Victimization Survey  and found that felonies  that are committed                                                               
at  shelters are  not  broken  out so  it's  difficult to  gather                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH mused  about the  purposefully  broad language  and                                                               
said  although he  has some  qualms, this  will probably  be used                                                               
only when  a crime is  committed on  the grounds of  a recognized                                                               
MS. FLEAGLE said  in rural Alaska federal funds  are provided for                                                               
safe homes  and in those small  communities they are known  to be                                                               
places  of  refuge. It  would  be  up  to local  jurisdiction  to                                                               
determine if that is a recognized shelter or facility, she said.                                                                
1:39:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH opened public testimony.                                                                                           
CHRIS  ASHENBRENNER, Interim  Program  Administrator, Council  on                                                               
Domestic Violence  & Sexual Assault,  Juneau, told  the committee                                                               
that   she  submitted   written   testimony.   We  support   this                                                               
legislation and believe  it's important to send  the message that                                                               
committing a crime at a  safe haven warrants something "extra" in                                                               
terms of holding the perpetrator accountable, she said.                                                                         
She was at the AWARE shelter  when the perpetrator tried to break                                                               
in  several years  ago.  The  perpetrator did  not  get into  the                                                               
shelter,  but he  wasn't  held accountable  for  going after  the                                                               
victim who  was in safe shelter,  for putting others at  risk, or                                                               
for re-traumatizing  other victims. She encouraged  the committee                                                               
to pass the bill because it sends a strong message.                                                                             
1:41:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SARALYN  TABACHNICK, Executive  Director, AWARE  Shelter, Juneau,                                                               
spoke in  support of SB  150. There  is a higher  expectation and                                                               
need  for  safety  for  this  high  risk  population,  she  said.                                                               
Referring to  the 2005 break in  at the shelter, she  said it was                                                               
traumatic for  everyone involved. Passing this  bill will promote                                                               
increased  safety for  victims of  domestic  violence and  sexual                                                               
assault  and  it  will  hold   batterers  accountable  for  their                                                               
behaviors, she stated.                                                                                                          
1:43:48 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDA STANFORD,  Program Director, Artic Women  in Crisis (AWIC),                                                               
Barrow, spoke  in support of  SB 150.  This is an  opportunity to                                                               
provide  tools  for  prosecutors  and others  to  hold  offenders                                                               
accountable, she  said. Safety is  always a primary  goal because                                                               
without  it  you  can't  provide   crisis  intervention  or  help                                                               
children  report sexual  abuse. In  2006 AWIC  provided close  to                                                               
3,000 safe  shelter nights for  women and children at  the Barrow                                                               
facility. That figure  does not include shelter  provided in safe                                                               
homes in outlying villages.                                                                                                     
When the Dillingham  shelter director was asked  how she measures                                                               
success, she  said it's  the children. They  arrive full  of fear                                                               
and it takes  time before they feel safe enough  to want to play.                                                               
But it's  not just  children; it  takes time  for all  victims to                                                               
feel safe again. She related  several traumatizing events at AWIC                                                               
to  demonstrate how  an entire  facility can  be impacted  when a                                                               
perpetrator tries  to gain access  to a shelter. We  have cameras                                                               
and other security  features at the facility here  in Barrow, but                                                               
safe  homes in  the villages  don't have  those luxuries.  Please                                                               
take the safe  homes into consideration when you  look at passing                                                               
SB 150, she said. They do need additional protections.                                                                          
1:50:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  noted that  there are letters  of support  from the                                                               
Alaska  Network  on Domestic  Violence  and  Sexual Assault,  Ms.                                                               
Ashenbrenner, Virginia  Walsh who  is a  clinician at  the Arctic                                                               
Women in  Crisis, and Nellie  Sears who  provides a safe  home in                                                               
Point Hope.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR HUGGINS recalled that similar  measures had been taken to                                                               
make school  sites safe.  Musing about  a young  Georgia football                                                               
player who  received what many  believe to be an  unusually harsh                                                               
sentence and a  hypothetical defendant who breaks  into a shelter                                                               
believing it's  a private  home, he  said he  would hate  to have                                                               
unintended consequences related to the aggravator.                                                                              
SENATOR  McGUIRE asked  if  mental intent  language  is used  for                                                               
aggravators. She  suggested amending  the bill  to make  it clear                                                               
that this  applies to  a defendant who  committed the  offense on                                                               
the  premises  with the  intent  to  threaten  or harm  staff  or                                                               
victims. The  idea is to  avoid the unintended  consequences that                                                               
Senator Huggins is referring to, she said.                                                                                      
1:53:38 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNE  CARPENETI, Assistant  Attorney General,  Criminal Division,                                                               
Department of Law, Juneau, advised  that this isn't a concern for                                                               
factors in  aggravation and  mitigation. These  are discretionary                                                               
factors that  the court uses  in the particular  situation that's                                                               
involved, she said.                                                                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH  said under Senator Huggins'  hypothetical scenario,                                                               
the  sentencing  judge  could  decide   what  way  to  apply  the                                                               
aggravator and proceed accordingly.                                                                                             
MS. CARPENETI  said yes, and  Alaska judges usually have  lots of                                                               
common sense.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR McGUIRE recalled  that knowingly is the  mental intent so                                                               
it would be the defendant knowingly committed the offense.                                                                      
MS. CARPENETI suggested you'd say  "committed the offense knowing                                                               
that it was a shelter."                                                                                                         
1:55:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR McGUIRE  motioned to  report SB  150 from  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                          

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