Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/08/1997 08:30 AM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE May 8, 1997 8:30 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Joe Green, Chairman Representative Con Bunde, Vice Chairman Representative Brian Porter Representative Jeanne James Representative Norman Rokeberg Representative Eric Croft Representative Ethan Berkowitz MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 60 "An Act providing for an advisory vote on the issue of capital punishment." - MOVED HCS SB 60(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE * HOUSE BILL NO. 252 "An Act relating to criminal records; relating to notice about and registration of sex offenders and child kidnappers; and amending Rules 11(c) and 32(c), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure." - BILL HEARING CANCELLED (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: SB 60 SHORT TITLE: ADVISORY VOTE ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) TAYLOR, Pearce JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/24/97 126 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/24/97 126 (S) JUDICIARY 03/10/97 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 03/10/97 (S) MINUTE(JUD) 03/11/97 671 (S) JUD RPT 4DP 1DNP 03/11/97 671 (S) DP: TAYLOR, MILLER, PEARCE, PARNELL 03/11/97 671 (S) DNP: ELLIS 03/11/97 671 (S) FISCAL NOTES (GOV, CORR, LAW) 03/11/97 671 (S) FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUDICIARY 03/24/97 832 (S) INDETERMINATE FNS (ADM-2) 04/09/97 (S) FIN AT 6:00 PM SENATE FINANCE 532 04/10/97 1075 (S) FIN RPT 4DP 2NR 1DNP 04/10/97 1075 (S) DP: PEARCE, SHARP, PHILLIPS, TORGERSON 04/10/97 1075 (S) NR: PARNELL, DONLEY; DNP: ADAMS 04/10/97 1075 (S) PREVIOUS FN (GOV) 04/11/97 (S) RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 04/11/97 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 04/29/97 (S) RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 04/29/97 1543 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR & 1DNP 4/29/97 04/29/97 1546 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 04/29/97 1546 (S) AM NO 1 FAILED Y6 N11 E3 04/29/97 1547 (S) AM NO 2 FAILED Y5 N12 E3 04/29/97 1548 (S) AM NO 3 FAILED Y5 N12 E3 04/29/97 1549 (S) THIRD READING 4/30 CALENDAR 04/30/97 1583 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME SB 60 04/30/97 1583 (S) PASSED Y13 N6 E1 04/30/97 1583 (S) ADAMS NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION 05/01/97 1626 (S) RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD READING 05/01/97 1626 (S) PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y13 N6 E1 05/01/97 1627 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 05/02/97 1463 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 05/02/97 1463 (H) JUDICIARY 05/05/97 1530 (H) FIN REFERRAL ADDED 05/07/97 (H) JUD AT 1:30 PM SENATE FINANCE 532 05/07/97 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 05/08/97 (H) JUD AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 120 WITNESS REGISTER Senator Robin Taylor Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 30 Juneau, Alaska 99811 Telephone: (907) 465-4906 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor SB 60 JOSH FINK, Intern Alaskans Against the Death Penalty P.O. Box 202296 Anchorage, Alaska 99520 Telephone: (907) 258-2296 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SB 60 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-81, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN called the House Judiciary Standing Committee to order at 8:30 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Bunde, Porter, James and Green. CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN announced that because of a conflict, the House Judiciary Committee would recess to the call of the chair. The meeting was recessed at 8:32 a.m. Chairman Green called the House Judiciary Committee back to order at 9:50 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Con Bunde, Brian Porter, Jeannette James, Eric Croft, Ethan Berkowitz and Chairman Joe Green. Representative Norman Rokeberg arrived at 10:15 a.m. SB 60 - ADVISORY VOTE ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT Number 033 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members that the bill before them was SB 60, "An Act providing for an advisory vote on the issue of capital punishment." He noted that Representative Croft had prepared an amendment for the committee's consideration. REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT moved to amend SB 1, page 1, line 8, delete [Shall], and insert, If the Alaska State Legislature enacts a law providing for capital punishment for murder, the following annual fiscal costs to the following state agencies are estimated to result: (INSERT FISCAL COSTS) These estimates assume 10 capital punishment cases annually. It is also estimated that the total fiscal cost for the trial and subsequent legal proceedings, incarceration pending execution, and execution for one capital punishment case would be: (INSERT FISCAL COST) For the purpose of comparison, the estimated total fiscal cost of the trial and subsequent legal proceedings and incarceration of a person sentenced to a mandatory 99-year term of imprisonment without parole as provided under current law is: (INSERT FISCAL COST) Considering this shall; and page 1, following line 12, insert a new bill section to read: "*Sec. 2. Each department that expects to be affected by the enactment of a law providing for capital punishment for murder in the first degree shall estimate, in consultation with the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, and submit that fiscal impact to the lieutenant governor not less than 180 days before the time the question in sec. 1 of this Act will appear on the ballot. The lieutenant governor shall insert those estimates into the question at the appropriate places shown in sec 1 of this Act. REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES objected. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that Amendment 1, SB 60, was, basically, identical to the amendment the committee adopted on the House version of the bill, and would place on the ballot, the fiscal costs expected to be realized by the affected state agencies. This amendment; however, was different than the action taken on the House Bill in two different areas. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that the first difference would place on the ballot a comparison of the expected costs of a death penalty sentence versus a sentence of life in prison. He explained that the Department of Corrections had provided additional information which reflected that the average prisoner was approximately 30 years old and would live to be approximately 75 years old, which would equate to an average of 40 to 45 years in prison. With that calculation, it would cost the state an average of $1.7 million to incarcerate an individual for life. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that the second change involved adding the phrase, in consultation with the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, which would give the legislature some consultive role in the "making of the numbers" process. He noted that it still read, "each department shall submit", but the added language provided legislative input to some extent. Number 227 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked if the committee actually had the numbers that they would get from the Knowles Administration. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that what the committee was currently in possession of were the fiscal notes that were provided by affected departments on SB 60. He pointed out that what was remarkable to him, as he further studied the issue, was how consistent the raw dollar numbers were. Representative Croft advised members that there was a fairly consistent number of $5 million more costs for the death penalty from studies done in California and New York. The sheet that he distributed to members entitled Death Penalty Cost Analysis - First Four Years, compared the numbers compiled by the Hickel Administration, which was pro death penalty, to the numbers calculated by the Knowles Administration, which opposed the death penalty. Representative Croft noted that Mr. McNally and former Attorney General Charlie Cole, explained that both the governor and the attorney general had made the death penalty a top priority, which was reflected in a Joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in 1994. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT expressed that the numbers calculated by the Hickel Administration were remarkably similar to the Knowles Administration's expected costs to reinstate the death penalty, and also indicated a fair amount of agreement to what was shown nationally. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that because the Hickel Administration planned for a 60 bed death row facility, and the Hickel Administration planned for a 30 bed death row facility, that he removed the capital costs indicated by the Department of Corrections. He stated that to include the Public Defender's Office, the Office of Public Advocacy, the Department of Law and the Court System and the operating costs of the Department of Corrections, the numbers by both administrations amounted to approximately $4 million cost per case. Representative Croft further stated that each administration estimated a different number of death penalty cases, which was because the prior bill was slightly different and took in a more limited number of cases. However, when calculating the cost per case from each administration, you arrive at, basically, the same numbers; whether pro death penalty administration, or anti death penalty administration, as well as a lot of similarity in the numbers from state to state. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that he knew there was another alternative considered that they provide some multiple. He felt that it would say to the people, "this could cost you three to five times", versus the cost of a sentence to life in prison. Representative Croft stated that by keeping the raw numbers, a) because they seemed to be consistent and defensible, and b) whatever is placed on the ballot would be attacked in some respect, that he felt what he was proposing would have more support than what they could get from a multiple. Representative Croft stated that on the raw level, he wanted to know what the cost would be. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT reminded members that when discussing the House version, they considered the analogy of purchasing a car, or constructing a skating rink in Anchorage. He noted that no one says, "buy this new car and it will cost you three to five times less than you are paying now." Representative Croft stated that he wanted to know how much the car cost. Number 446 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated that he felt there was room for criticism in either "camp"; however, what he liked about Representative Croft's proposed amendment was that it was bolstered by the right hand column and could be validated, as opposed to what everyone thought of the cost estimate of moving the capital. He emphasized that what was presented were two administrations with two totally different philosophies on the issue, whose agencies had arrived at, virtually, the same numbers. Representative Porter advised members that that was pretty defensible evidence. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if what was reflected involved a four year cost to the state. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT responded that it was. The numbers presented on the comparison sheet were the numbers arrived at by both administrations for a four year period. He pointed out that the two comparisons differed in their totals, $40 million versus $25 million; however, that was because the Hickel Administration estimated 6 death penalty cases per year, versus 10 death penalty cases per year which was estimated by the Knowles Administration. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked for clarification on the cost for one death penalty case. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained that the average death penalty case, which resulted in an execution, would cost the state $4,065,000. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that the cost of a life sentence would cost the state approximately $1.7 million, as calculated by the affected agencies. REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ pointed out that there was also a distinction in those costs, whereby the $1.7 million cost for a life sentence would be spread out over a period of time, so the present value of that money would be significantly less than the $4 million which the state would have to pay, up front, right now. Number 603 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members he certainly concurred with that statement having been in business; however, unfortunately, governments did not work in present worth, but he understood what Representative Berkowitz said and felt it was a very good point. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that so there was no question in anyone's mind, what members were discussing was a total cost estimate of putting a person to death for the conviction of first degree murder, as opposed to the cost for life in prison. He asked if there was any documentation that supported the cost of $1.7 million for life imprisonment. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that there had been conversations with the Department of Corrections who provided their average life expectancy and average age coming in, which resulted in the cost of $1.7 million present dollar value. He noted that he did not have that in writing. Representative Croft explained that the Department of Corrections would come in with the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee and provide a number. He stated that the question had not been asked as to how much per case exactly, although some of those over four years, "tried on day one, trial goes over into year two, appeal is through year 3", that he was dividing it by the number of cases they estimated in their own fiscal note per year. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed and pointed out that what was provided for visual review was a good breakdown and probably as defensible as one could get. He wondered if they should not have something similar to the litany that went with a person being incarcerated for 40 years, that it would cost "X" amount of dollars. Chairman Green expressed that he was concerned with providing a number that did not have back up support, and suggested that they might include language that would reflect that, "this number is supported by results compiled by states who currently have the death penalty, that those cases run two to five times higher than the cost for life in prison." Number 745 CHAIRMAN GREEN recognized the presence of Senator Robin Taylor, the prime sponsor of SB 60, and asked if he would like to join members at the witness table. SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR expressed that he thought the committee was talking about fiscal notes of $2 to $4 million dollars, and did not know what bill the committee was considering. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE stated that on the dollar amounts provided, that it was his understanding there had been some changes, in various states, as to the number of appeals allowed under a death penalty case, and the amount of time involved. He asked if the numbers presented reflected current conditions, or did they recognize a reduced number of available appeals in a death penalty case. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that the numbers reflected current conditions and did not estimate some the restrictions on appeals. He added that there was a limit to how far an appeal could be restricted if someone were going to be executed. The process could be streamlined somewhat, but a lot of it could not be eliminated. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated that the figures then would present the worst case scenario if they did not take into consideration the fact that the process had changed somewhat in other states with respect to the appeal process. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if Representative Croft would concur with that statement. He stated that because some states had modified their process, were members looking at a worst case scenario. It was his understanding that the numbers were based on the current process and represented a factual reflection. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT agreed with the Chairman's statement. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER reminded members that the previous legislature streamlined the post conviction relief process about as tight as it could be constitutional done. He did not think that in the foreseeable future there would be any more efficiency that could be done to the state system to reduce appellate costs of a criminal case. Number 907 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that the costs, to his understanding, also reflected, or should reflect, the number of cases that were charged as a capital case where the jury did not return a capital verdict, because those cases would be more expensive. Number 935 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that she had always been in support of capital punishment; however, she changed her mind this past year purely and simply because she had little faith in the judicial system. She noted that there was a case where a person was determined to be innocent who had been on death row a long time; however, that did not mean that she did not support the concept of capital punishment in heinous crimes. Representative James advised members she could think of some and she did not see any reason for that person to continue to live. She stated that she knew that people who were opposed to capital punishment had different ideas as to why, or why not the state should have capital punishment. Representative James advised members that the question, as posed in SB 60, did not define what kind of a capital punishment bill would result from a positive vote of the people. She noted that it could very well be that it would only pertain to those who kill a police officer, or people who had killed numerous times, or killed young children. Because of that, she believed the four or 10 cases estimated to take place every year were totally out of the whole concept of what was being considered. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that she did not have a problem with saying that in states that had implemented capital punishment there had been, by experience, a percentage of difference in the cost of the capital punishment cases. What she had a problem with was setting a large dollar amount that purely and simply would cause and create people to vote "no" on something that they really wanted to vote "yes" on. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated that the fact, that at the ballot box she might vote "no", she still believed strong enough in the public process that she did not want to oppose putting out for people to vote on because she felt they were entitled to that vote. Based on everything she had just said, Representative James reiterated that she did not like throwing big numbers out to the public because there was not a clue as to what type of bill would result out of a positive vote of the people. Number 1078 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER advised members what was interesting to him was the bottom number, and if the amendment were amended to reflect the same information per case, as opposed to an estimate of cases because members did not know what type of bill would result, if that would alleviate some of Representative James' concerns. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members they would still be subject to who provided the numbers and how they were calculated. She agreed that the numbers members were presently reviewing were pretty close, and felt they were valid numbers. But, quite frankly, to Representative James, if she was voting on a capital punishment bill and she knew that it was only for those terrible, terrible cases, which was not posed on the ballot question, with 15 or 16 young children dismantled and killed by someone finally caught, that $4 million per case would not budge her at all, she would still be in favor of capital punishment. Number 1168 CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that Representative James provided a good point; however, he thought the point had been made that the person on the street who would be voting would have their own different views on the issue. He pointed out that Joe Public 1 might feel it should only be for the heinous crime of killing uniformed police officers, whereas Joe Public 2 might feel it should be anyone who commits murder and Joe Public 3 might feel that the death penalty should not be implemented under any circumstance. Chairman Green felt that what was before them was a cost approximation that was fairly close, and calculated by two different administrations who had opposite views on the subject of capital punishment. CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members that his only concern was that the figures were based on estimates, although he felt they were very good estimates, and because of the caveat that they would be confirmed by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, the fact that they fell within the range that members had seen historically from outside, was that the death penalty cost two to five times more than life in prison. Chairman Green pointed out that if the public voted with the knowledge that it would be more expensive to impose the death penalty, that was one thing; however, if the people voted thinking that the death penalty was cheap, which many people did, placing a "yes" or "no" question before them would not provide all the facts. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that through her conversations with people around the state, particularly those in her district, she did not believe that was the case. She believed they were either in support of capital punishment or they were not, and the money was not relevant to them. Representative James stated that she did believe that what the legislature should do when asking the people a question was to pose a question they could answer, and she thought that placing a cost on the ballot assumed the kind of a bill that would result in what she believed was unfair, because she felt the legislature could enact a capital punishment bill that would not reflect the costs presented on the document under review. Number 1300 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that SB 60 stated, "capital punishment for murder in the first degree." He explained that murder in the first degree describe a number of different types of homicides and felt it was fairly clear that within that universe of homicides there would be 10 cases every year that would qualify for consideration of the death penalty, or somewhere within that vicinity. He believed what was presented was a pretty accurate estimation. CHAIRMAN GREEN explained to Senator Taylor that the committee had been deliberating on his bill and a proposed amendment to the bill. He asked the Senator if he had seen a copy of the proposed amendment and if he would like to address the committee. SENATOR TAYLOR advised members he did have a copy of the proposed amendment before him and stated that he felt it was interesting and asked what bill it was attached to. Senator Taylor questioned what bill any of the reflected state agencies had before them to base a fiscal note on, adding that it was gross speculation by a group of advocates opposing the very question. SENATOR TAYLOR advised members that there was a significant savings within a death penalty state that the advocates against the death penalty did not want to talk about. The best example Senator Taylor could provide was the case of the three German tourists who had been shot to death in their car when they pulled up to an intersection in Florida. Senator Taylor relayed that that intersection was approximately three quarters of a mile from his wife's parents home, and one which he drove through every time he visited. Senator Taylor advised members that the people who committed that heinous offense were caught, and Florida, as members were aware, had had the death penalty for quite some time. He reminded members that Ted Bundy was executed in the state of Florida, who after being incarcerated in Colorado, escaped and went on to kill another eight or nine people because no one had killed him. SENATOR TAYLOR went on to say that the three individuals that literally pulled up and executed a group of total strangers in a rental car in Florida, did so in order that they could steal their money. Those individuals, after being apprehended plead out. Senator Taylor advised members that was a felony murder in that state; a gun was used, a crime was committed and death occurred during the commission of a felony, which carried the death penalty in that state. Senator Taylor asked if it was not funny that the state did not spend a dime on anyone of those trial because all three plead out to the charges. The least that any of those offenders got was an 18 year old who plead out so he could get 40 years to serve. Senator Taylor asked how many millions of dollars were saved, in that state, in those three cases. He felt members would have to ask themselves why anyone would plead guilty in order to get 40 years to serve. Senator Taylor advised members that because two or three years before that, the state of Florida executed Ted Bundy and the statute those offenders were charged with would have resulted in their execution too. They knew that their choice was that they would either "fry", or they would get a chance, so they plead out to a lesser type sentence. SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that no one would provide those numbers, and added that the Attorney General's office or the district attorneys office would not bring those numbers because those were the people that blew how many millions of dollars attempting to convict Mr. Peel. SENATOR TAYLOR thought it might be necessary to sit and listen more carefully when Senator Jerry Ward tells about the young Native box boy working at the Carr's Supermarket where he worked, his buddy, who when he left work one night a fellow named Ed Meech [Ph] was waiting for him outside and beat him to death in the parking lot. Ed Meech went to jail, the state incarcerated him and then turned him loose about 20 years later so he could shot-gun to death four Anchorage youths in Russian Jack Park. SENATOR TAYLOR emphasized that if someone in the room had a bill that had anything to do with the fiscal notes, he would like to discuss that bill, and discuss how the state would end up trying more capital cases in Alaska than California did in a year. He pointed out that that was what the "note" was based on. SENATOR TAYLOR advised members that, "if in fact we want to talk about the bill I brought to your committee, it's got a fiscal note on it; it tells you exactly what it's going to cost to put it on the ballot. Now, if you want to be an advocacy group and go out and advocate against it, that's you're right, God bless you, I wish you luck. That's what this is, this is merely advocacy; speculation on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and I can't even get a chance to see the pin that these people are estimating this on. Are they taking the average death penalty statute among 27 different states that have it? That'd be an interesting bill, wouldn't it, Mr. Chairman, I mean, how do we do that? Every single one of these states have little, subtle nuances and differences, both within their laws and within their statutes. Some of the death penalty states have very, very narrow statutes that would only involve heinous offenses and killing police officers. Some of the other states have very broad statutes that allow it on any felony death, felony murder rule. Two kids hold up a Seven Eleven and one of them goes running out of the place and drops his gun and it kills some innocent bystander; it's a felony murder. In some states that could get you the death penalty. I don't know that I'd be willing to go that far in drafting a death penalty bill. I don't know how many of you would. I don't know how many of us would want to have one that was just limited to really heinous offenses or just limited to police officers, or officers in our corrections facilities. I don't have any idea how that might -- might move around here. "But you see, if I don't have any idea about that, where did all these ideas come from, and what bill are they based on? And if they're not based on my bill, it's a great discussion; it's something that -- part of the public debate that needs to take place on this bill as it moves towards a decision by the public. And I can guarantee the members of this committee, the advocacy groups that are available to debate this subject are ready, willing and able to do it. And I'm sure we're going to see a very extensive debate of the issue, but we have to get to the issue first. I would really appreciate the committee moving the bill as is, and if, in fact, there is a different fiscal note that needs to be placed, or financial consideration that needs to be placed on it, I think that's why we have a Finance Committee." Number 1670 CHAIRMAN GREEN expressed to Senator Taylor that he thought they were mixing apples and oranges; one, talking about a fiscal note that would put the question on the ballot, versus educating the people as to what reinstatement of the death penalty might cost, of which there was a significant difference. SENATOR TAYLOR responded that if they were going to educate the people as to what it might cost, it would be necessary to know what the people were being educated on. He asked if it was the California death penalty, the Florida death penalty, or the Georgia death penalty. Senator Taylor pointed out that he could not tell because there was no way to debate the numbers with the committee because he did not know what they were based on. He advised members that if he knew what the numbers were based on he could call up that state and get information from them on how many cases get charged as a capital murder, and how many plead out to first or second degree murder that did not carry a capital punishment. Senator Taylor reiterated that he did not know the answer to that, and if he did, he could say, "Look at the savings involved here, cause see, our prosecutors are limited to only one charge. We do not have capital offenses, and as a consequence, anytime you get into a situation where there is a multiple murder, you know that you're looking at somebody that's probably going get the opportunity to serve two 90 plus year sentences." Senator Taylor expressed that to a defense attorney, that was a death sentence because the state would put that person in a "cage" for the rest of their life, and they would only come out of that "cage" in a body bag. How could that be called anything else but a death sentence. SENATOR TAYLOR advised members that it was kind of like buying life insurance; people like to call it life insurance. He advised members if someone was handed down a sentence of life in prison, that person would not be coming out of prison, they would die in prison. "We don't say, death in prison sentence. It's like the life insurance salesman, he doesn't say I'm selling you death insurance because you collect when you die, I'm selling you life insurance ...." CHAIRMAN GREEN made note that the conversation had digressed from the question. Number 1751 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised Senator Taylor the committee was discussing his bill, SB 60, and his amendment to the Senator's bill which would allow people to know the cost of the death penalty. He noted that Senator Taylor made a persuasive argument for having the death penalty, and felt the Senator would continue to do so. Representative Croft explained that the amendment was attempting to put on the ballot, as they would with any other item that costs the people of Alaska money, what the committee felt implementation of the death penalty would cost the state. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT pointed out that he was not in the habit of defending the Hickel Administration; however, he would have to say that they were not an advocacy group against the death penalty, but the opposite. What the committee looked back to was what that administration had estimated the cost of the death penalty to be; an administration that wanted the death penalty. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that he did not know California, Georgia or Florida's statute either, nor which one the state of Alaska would end up adopting. What did appear to be consistent were the costs involved. He noted that the Senator could make his arguments as to why the death penalty did not cost, but that had not been the experience of the states with the death penalty, nor had it been an estimation of either a pro or anti death penalty administration that it would not cost. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that, through his amendment, he wanted to place some reasonable estimate of the cost before the people when the legislature asks them to make the decision. He noted that the amendment provided for involvement by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, the numbers on the document were not necessarily the final numbers. It provides that the departments bring those numbers back after consultation with the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. Representative Croft did not believe there was anything unfair in the discussion about providing a good faith estimate of the price tag involved in having capital punishment in the state of Alaska. Number 1830 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that he thought Senator Taylor raised an interesting point when he said that we did not know what cases would qualify for the death penalty. He stated with that being the case, how could the voters know what the simple question in front of them was. SENATOR TAYLOR felt the question posed by Representative Berkowitz demeaned the public because he felt the people knew what they wanted when they elected their state representatives. "How did they know what the cost was going to be of electing a Berkowitz? How did they know what the cost was going to be of electing a Taylor? They didn't." SENATOR TAYLOR advised members they were asking about a concept, and it was the concept that was the question. He stated that it was a very simple question and a very simple concept, not complicated at all. Senator Taylor pointed out that they were dealing with the youngest, most highly educated population in the United States of America, and he had a great deal of faith that they could figure out the question. He did not believe the voting population was naive to not realizing there would additional costs to a death penalty system. Senator Taylor thought the people were very sophisticated about the entire question, in fact, he stated that if members watched TV, read newspaper articles or read magazines over that past year, that he had seen more television programs on the death penalty coming from one side or the other of the issue than he had seen in his entire life. Number 1928 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that Senator Taylor characterized in his sponsor statement the bill being akin to a poll. It seemed to Representative Berkowitz that without adequate concern for the form of the question, it just winds up being a "push poll." SENATOR TAYLOR asked if Representative Berkowitz thought the question begged an answer, one way or another, and asked if he thought the question was biased in one way. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ believed it was biased because it was inadequate in its totality; did not set predicate, did not explain the conditions or the terms. SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that the words were not his, the bill had been through several different crafters. To him it appeared to be a very objective statement, that you either vote for or against the issue being posed. He noted that he realized there were a number of ramifications to the issue on both sides, which he had no quarrel with. Senator Taylor did not know how it could be stated anymore simply. He stated that if it was reworded to state something like; "There's lots of evil, awful mean people running around out there today, and lots of them kill little tiny children, and rape and pillage, and so on; do you believe some of these people ought to be put to death?" Senator Taylor thought, in that case, they would be talking a pretty good push. He stated that it could be written the other way; the court system makes mistakes and there were all sorts of problems out there, so should something be done that would be final; which might be a bit of a push as well, from the other side. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ noted that there was a Dittman Poll included in the bill packets in which the question provided an alternative between life without parole and the death penalty; which would you choose. He believed the question formed in that manner had less push. SENATOR TAYLOR felt that was really a jury question. He advised members that in many states it was the jury that sets the penalty in a capital case, and they would have to make the decision of death, or life without parole. Senator Taylor pointed out that the advocates for that question always try to twist it around and say; "See, the public didn't really know they had this other choice." Senator Taylor continued to state; "You can't be alive in Alaska, read a newspaper and not know that you've got that choice. We see significant sentences reported in the press in Alaska, very often, sentences that will go 200, 300 years. Well, you know looking at that, with one third good time he still isn't going to make it out of there." Senator Taylor did not believe the public was that naive, nor did he believe it was a poorly drawn question, and added that the bill drafters could not find a more objective way to draft the language. Number 2060 CHAIRMAN GREEN reiterated the analogy of a person who wanted to buy a car; car "A", or car "B", and the first thing most people ask, even though car "B" was a much nicer looking car, was how much does it cost. Chairman Green felt that was the thrust of the amendment; to allow the people to have a reasonable idea that there were two alternatives to keep a serious criminal off the streets and one was a whole lot more expensive than the other. That was what Chairman Green felt the people ought to be aware of when considering such a question placed on an advisory ballot. SENATOR TAYLOR advised members if that were true he would not mind. He asked who, 20 to 25 years in the state of Alaska, would have believed the state would be spending the kind of money it was spending per prisoner today, and then figure out the cost of keeping the prisoner around for 50 years, or 20 years, to keep him/her healthy, sitting in a cage with everyone sitting there watching the prisoner waiting for him/her to die. Senator Taylor stated that death by natural causes in a case, was apparently satisfactory to the people today. Senator Taylor suggested that they compare that with what the cost of the trial would be, because the only thing that could be charged out different was the cost of the trial and the appellate process. So, was there an increase? Senator Taylor stated that there probably was if the state was going keep an individual in jail for that length of time, but if not, what would the state realize in savings. Senator Taylor pointed out that the savings was not reflected in any of the fiscal notes members had before them, and the single biggest savings he was trying to explain to the committee, from real life experience and he felt Representative Porter would agree, was what percentage of cases, in general that get charged, actually result in trials. Senator Taylor stated that the number of cases that actually went to trial was minuscule; the majority of the cases charged were plead out. He expressed that if the state had to try every single case, the judiciary would have to be twenty times larger that it presently was. Senator Taylor emphasized that the savings that would be realized were huge when you add that additional tool. SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that if the state's prosecutors only had the death penalty available to them, and chose never to use it, it would be a huge savings in that case. Number 2166 CHAIRMAN GREEN wondered who would have thought 25 or 30 years ago that court trials would cost nearly as much as they presently did, or professional baseball player's salaries be what they were today. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that Anne Carpeneti with the Criminal Division of the Department of Law was in the audience, and he asked if she wanted to discuss the fiscal note submitted by the Department of Law; Ms. Carpeneti said she was available to answer questions. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES pointed out that the election booklets always contain a statement on both sides of the issue being presented to the public, and she felt that would be the best place to disclose the information provided in Amendment 1, SB 60. She believed that people in favor of the death penalty could then vote against it if they felt the cost would prohibit the reinstatement of the death penalty. Representative James added that she was not aware of the ratio of people who actually read the election booklet. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that several people had signed up to testify; however, testimony had been closed on the House version of the bill and he felt additional testimony would be a repeat of previous testimony because the bills were identical. Chairman Green did recognize one individual in the audience who was not able to testify previously, and in an effort to keep the scales balanced on the committee's decision, invited Josh Fink to provide comments to the committee. JOSH FINK, Intern, Alaskans Against the Death Penalty, expressed that he realized the House Judiciary Committee had spent a considerable amount of time on the issue of the death penalty. Mr. Fink advised members there was a lot of misinformation, among the public regarding the death penalty, that would impact people's decision on how to vote on the question posed in SB 60. Mr. Fink felt it was incumbent that the public be informed and be given information to allow for a reasonable and deliberate decision. MR. FINK pointed out that polls had consistently shown why a majority of Alaskans support the death penalty, because those people believe that first degree murderers were out on the streets within 20 years. He stated that that was simply not true, that it was impossible in the state of Alaska, and in fact, the average sentence for murder in the first degree was 76 years imprisonment, and the average age of conviction was 29 years old. Mr. Fink pointed out that the public believed those individuals were released within 20 years and that was what would drive the vote. MR. FINK further stated that the public thought the death penalty was cheaper than incarceration. He noted that Senator Taylor had suggested there was no evidence of that, and Mr. Fink agreed that it was difficult to narrow the costs down precisely; however, he believed that the amendment before the committee and the information that had been provided was fair, reasonable and fairly accurate. Mr. Fink advised members that he had never seen a study that suggested the death penalty was cheaper than life in prison. He pointed out that there had been numerous studies that had indicated increased costs. California, according to "Sacramento Bee", reflected $90 million a year to provide a death penalty and they estimated $15 million per execution. MR. FINK advised members that the Dallas Morning News estimated $2.3 million per execution, three times the cost of life in prison, and the Miami Herald estimated $3.2 million, or 6 times the cost of life in prison without parole. So there were groups and researchers that had indicated the death penalty would result in increased costs, which Mr. Fink thought was based on fairly reasonable and substantiated grounds. MR. FINK recommended that members adopt the proposed amendment, and expressed his appreciation of the time and effort the House Judiciary Committee had put into a very difficult issue. He felt it was critical that if the question went forward that the public be provided some information to make a deliberate and reasoned choice. Mr. Fink advised members that he was clearly convinced, with the misconceptions among public, that there would need to be a serious campaign effort, although he was not sure the resources were available to educate the people of the state, and to the extent the House Judiciary Committee could ensure that some basic information was provided in the question, he felt was extremely important. Number 2327 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE reiterated the statement made by Representative James regarding both sides of the issue would be presented in the election pamphlet, and with the amount of lobbying the committee had received on the issue, he could not believe there would not be an incredible amount of lobbying done, on both sides of the issue, if it would come to a public vote. He expressed that he was not quite sure why there would be the concern that people would not be informed on the issue. MR. FINK noted that members, being involved themselves in campaigns, were aware that it was a costly process, it took a lot of energy and effort to get a message to the public, and was generally harder to raise money for causes than it was for individual candidates. He felt the resources might be out there and there would be an effort; however, it would be difficult to mount the kind of campaign to get the education out to the public that would overcome the existing misinformation. Mr. Fink stated that he was not sure the resources were available to effectively get the message out. He pointed out that if the legislature was going to move forward with the question, he did not understand why there would be an objection to provide what were reasonable estimates from two different administrations; one opposed, one in favor of the death penalty who, basically arrived at the same numbers. Number 2442 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE agreed that he did not object to provide information, which was to him a given, that it cost more to execute a person than to keep them in prison for life. He asked Mr. Fink if the information was provided on the ballot, and if the public, with the knowledge that the death penalty was more expensive than life in prison but chose to support the death penalty, would the organization Mr. Fink represented accept the death penalty, or would they still be advocating against it. MR. FINK responded that he was not capable of speaking for the organization on that question. He advised members that personally, he had no problem with the public voting on the question fully informed, and added that he also had no doubt they would vote against it if they were fully informed. Number 2442 CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that there were bond issues which held a significant amount of pro and con views, and pointed out that the bond issues did not pose a straight forward question such as "Do we need a bond issue for schools?" Those do include numbers for the public's information, so when they vote, they vote knowingly what it was going to cost. TAPE 97-81, SIDE B Number 000 CHAIRMAN GREEN reiterated that the House Judiciary Committee had taken significant testimony on the issue, as well as hearing the pro and con views on the moral issue of the death penalty, which was one of the reasons he would not take more public testimony on the bill. He noted that the bill also had another committee of referral to the House Finance Committee which would allow for further testimony on the proposed legislation. CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members with respect to SJR 3 - PRISONER RIGHTS LIMITED TO FEDERAL RIGHTS, that he felt the committee was probably not sufficiently knowledgeable on the issue and it was his decision not to consider the bill until they received a response from the study committee. With that, Amendment 1, SB 60 was before the committee and Representative Croft would provide a final statement on the amendment. Number 068 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that the amendment was not attempting to provide a full education in the ballot question, nor present the voter pamphlet information in the question, but simply an attempt to put the best estimate possible on the cost of the death penalty on the question. He pointed out that all the other arguments, pro and con, could be thrashed out in public debate, in the voter pamphlet and in whatever other forum that might take place. Number 102 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if Representative Croft would consider a friendly conceptual amendment to proposed Amendment 1, somewhere between lines 12 to 14, to include a statement that would reflect that the cost estimate was borne out by reviews of other states who had found their cost range of two to five times more than life in prison. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members he would accept that as a friendly amendment to Amendment 1. CHAIRMAN GREEN pointed out that if it was found that those costs were not there, it could be stricken. His intent was to state that it was not just a local estimate, but actually fell into the same range of that of the states in the Lower 48. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected to the conceptual amendment to Amendment 1, and asked that the Chairman explain his intent further. CHAIRMAN GREEN explained that, prior to Representative Rokeberg's arrival, the committee had shown from two different administrations, one in favor of the death penalty and one opposed, that the cost for carrying out the act would be something in the nature of $4 million. And the cost of incarceration for 45 years amounted to a cost to the state of approximately $1.7 million. Chairman Green advised Representative Rokeberg that that provided a ratio of how much more it would cost the state to put someone to death versus imposing a sentence of life in prison. Sentencing a prisoner to death would cost the state approximately two times more than imposing a life sentence without parole. Chairman Green explained that the point of his friendly amendment would provide additional evidence that studies of states who had the death penalty in the Lower 48 reflected that the death penalty cost two to five times more than life in prison without parole. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG advised members that he would not attempt to support anything like that unless the ballot also reflected the costs of incarceration. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that the ballot would reflect those cost figures, as well, so the public would have the opportunity to compare the two respective costs to the state. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG removed his objection. There being no objection, the conceptual amendment to Amendment 1 was adopted. CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members Amendment 1, as amended was now before the committee and asked if there were any objections to the adoption of Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected to the adoption of Amendment 1, SB 60, so a roll call vote was taken. In favor: Representatives Porter, Croft, Berkowitz and Chairman Green. Opposed: Representatives Bunde, Rokeberg and James. Amendment 1, SB 60 was adopted by a vote of 4 to 3. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE moved to report HCS SB 60 (JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ objected for the purpose of making a statement. He advised members that he was uncomfortable with the idea of taking advisory votes. Representative Berkowitz felt that in a way it abdicated the responsibility of a state legislator to do it simply as a way of polling the public on one particular issue where extensive polls already existed. He felt it was unnecessarily contentious, and he did not like being pressured that somehow members were just weather vane figures who were going to go with the direction of the political winds. Representative Berkowitz advised members that he was opposed to the bill, and noted that the legislature was not taking advisory votes on other difficult issues, but were singling out this one particular issue which seemed to him was politically motivated, and he did not care to be a part of that. Number 370 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated not speaking for the issue at hand, but no one would find her voting against putting something out for the public to make a decision on. She pointed out that she had faith in the public, and believed that government was of the people and she had no problem with conducting an advisory vote on any issue. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ advised members that he had no problem with the public weighing in on issues, or with the public providing direction; however, the concept of an advisory vote seemed to him not what the initiative process was all about. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if the objection to moving HCS SB 60(JUD) out of committee was maintained. Representative Berkowitz maintained his objection, so a roll call vote was taken. In favor: Representatives Bunde, Porter, Rokeberg and James. Chairman Green reluctantly voted in favor. Opposed: Representatives Croft and Berkowitz. HCS SB 60(JUD) was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 5 to 2. CHAIRMAN GREEN reiterated that information relating to SJR 3 was not yet available, so that bill would not be considered at the present time. ADJOURNMENT Number 434 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced to members that this was the final meeting of the House Judiciary Standing Committee, First Session of the Twentieth Legislature. With nothing further to come before the committee, Chairman Green adjourned the meeting at 10:45 a.m.