Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/09/1996 09:00 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
    SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                     
                        February 9, 1996                                       
                           9:00 a.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Lyda Green, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                            
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
                                                                               
  OTHER MEMBERS PRESENT                                                        
                                                                               
 Senator Robin Taylor                                                          
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 188                                                           
 "An Act relating to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect,              
 and requiring that, as part of the investigation of the reports of            
 suspected child abuse or neglect, all official interviews with                
 children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected be                  
 videotaped."                                                                  
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 188 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Senator Mike Miller, Co-Sponsor                                               
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed sponsor statement.                             
                                                                               
 Senator Robin Taylor, Co-Sponsor                                              
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed SB 188.                                        
                                                                               
 Del Smith, Deputy Commissioner                                                
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 PO Box 111200                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188 as written.                               
                                                                               
 Diane Worley, Director                                                        
 Division of Family & Youth Services                                           
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 PO Box 110630                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0630                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188 as written.                               
                                                                               
 Joann Hawk                                                                    
 Tundra Women's Coalition                                                      
 PO Box 574                                                                    
 Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 188.                                       
                                                                               
 Connie Tromble                                                                
 Tundra Women's Coalition                                                      
 PO Box 1765                                                                   
 Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 188.                                       
                                                                               
 Helen Sorensen                                                                
 Tundra Women's Coalition                                                      
 PO Box 1926                                                                   
 Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 188.                                       
                                                                               
 Carmen Lowry, Executive Director                                              
 Tundra Women's Coalition                                                      
 PO Box 1537                                                                   
 Bethel, Alaska 99559                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Concerned that SB 188 has not received enough            
                      time and scrutiny.                                       
                                                                               
 Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General                                    
 Criminal Division                                                             
 Department of Law                                                             
 PO Box 110300                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188.                                          
                                                                               
 Helen Mehrkens                                                                
 Education Program Support                                                     
 801 W 10th Street, Suite 200                                                  
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188 as written.                               
                                                                               
 Dan LaBrosse                                                                  
 475 Hall Street                                                               
 Fairbanks, Alaska                                                             
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed his experience as a previous social            
                      worker and encouraged further work on SB 188.            
                                                                               
 Michele Callaham, Executive Director                                          
 Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault                                             
 Unalaska, Alaska                                                              
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188.                                          
 Lynda Gauthier                                                                
 Guardians of Family Rights                                                    
 PO Box 2246                                                                   
 Homer, Alaska 99603                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed the need for checks and balances in            
                      order to protect everyone.                               
                                                                               
 Gene Ottenstroer                                                              
 Guardians of Family Rights                                                    
 PO Box 1059                                                                   
 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737                                                  
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed the need for videotaping.                      
                                                                               
 Pam Grant                                                                     
 STAR                                                                          
 1057 W Fireweed #230                                                          
 Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                       
 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 188.                                           
                                                                               
 Jennifer Bostick                                                              
 Ketchikan, Alaska                                                             
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Did not believe that SB 188 was right.                   
                                                                               
 Duane Stone, Officer                                                          
 Ketchikan Police Department                                                   
 Ketchikan, Alaska                                                             
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concern that a case could be lost if           
                      a videotape is not taken due to the mandatory            
                      provision of SB 188.                                     
                                                                               
 Christine Herrman                                                             
 Women In Safe Homes                                                           
 Ketchikan, Alaska                                                             
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Stated that SB 188 does not intend to protect            
          children, but rather punishes DFYS.                                  
                                                                               
 Dan Morris, Chief                                                             
 Kenai Police Department                                                       
 107 S. Willow Street                                                          
 Kenai, Alaska 99611                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188.                                          
                                                                               
 Brenda Wieffering, Executive Director                                         
 WRCC                                                                          
 325 S. Spruce                                                                 
 Kenai, Alaska 99611                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188.                                          
                                                                               
 Walt Bonner, Chief                                                            
 Soldotna Police Department                                                    
 44510 Sterling Highway                                                        
 Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                        
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 188.                                          
                                                                               
 Harry Nehaus                                                                  
 Guardians of Family Rights                                                    
 PO Box 55455                                                                  
 North Pole, Alaska 99705                                                      
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 188.                                        
                                                                               
 Gene Altig                                                                    
 Guardians of Family Rights                                                    
 4396 Al Cory Road                                                             
 North Pole, Alaska 99705                                                      
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 188.                                        
                                                                               
 Jody Delaney                                                                  
 PO Box 56064                                                                  
 North Pole, Alaska 99705                                                      
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed the need for a check and balance.              
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-6, SIDE A                                                             
                                                                               
 SHESS - 2/9/96                                                                
                                                                               
          SB 188 VIDEOTAPE INTERVIEW OF ABUSED MINOR                         
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:00 a.m. and introduced                
  SB 188  as the only order of business before the committee.                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER, Co-Sponsor of SB 188, read the following sponsor              
 statement:                                                                    
                                                                               
  PURPOSE:   this legislation was prompted by distress from concerned          
 parents requesting a more stringent "check and balance"                       
 accountability system for state agencies in regard to child abuse             
 legislation.                                                                  
                                                                               
  INTENT:   is that all interviews be video taped from the onset with          
 allegedly abused or neglected children; furthermore, the interview            
 may not proceed unless the above mentioned process is in place.               
                                                                               
 In turn this would help implement sound public policy by requiring            
 accountability of agency action in the sensitive area of state                
 interference in private family life; it would also provide a                  
 protection of the rights of the person conducting the interview.              
                                                                               
 I strongly urge your support of SB 188.                                       
 Senator Miller pointed out that the Ombudsman's report in the                 
 committee packet raises many concerns regarding the handling of the           
 reports.  He stated that one of the biggest case loads that a                 
 legislator faces is problems with the department of which the                 
 department seems to be wrong the majority of the time.  There does            
 not seem to be a standard that the department follows.  He noted              
 that when he was a member of the Legislative Budget & Audit                   
 committee a few years ago, the department was not handing out the             
 required pamphlets.  Senator Miller acknowledged that the agency is           
 not happy with this bill and have attached large fiscal notes in              
 order to kill the bill.  He requested that the agency come forward            
 and address the problems and ways to alleviate them.                          
                                                                               
 Number 079                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR, Co-Sponsor of SB 188, discussed his experience on             
 the bench and the bar with regards to drunk driving.  He estimated            
 that when he went to the bench, there was a 50 to 60 percent                  
 conviction rate of those drunk drivers having an aggressive trial.            
 Shortly after that time, Alaska's police departments and state                
 troopers began videotaping the "drunk" individual doing the field             
 sobriety tests.  The conviction rate rose above 75 percent.                   
 Senator Taylor emphasized that videotaping is the single most                 
 valuable tool in law enforcement because it brings the best                   
 evidence into the courtroom.                                                  
                                                                               
 Senator Taylor informed the committee that a few years ago the                
 department had estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the child abuse             
 cases were dismissed as not found after a thorough investigation.             
 That presents concerns about the inability to know the number of              
 true perpetrators that have gone free.  Even more disturbing, is              
 the inability to know how many have been wrongly accused and have             
 had their lives destroyed.  We are not utilizing the proper tools             
 to determine if the incident did or did not occur.                            
                                                                               
 Number 151                                                                    
                                                                               
 Senator Taylor discussed his experience with the prosecution in               
 such cases coming without notes or protocol; there never seemed to            
 be a pattern.  He suggested that videotaping would eliminate the              
 complaint in court about hearsay testimony which is often utilized            
 in child abuse cases.  Videotaping is the most tremendous evidence            
 put before a court.  He cited budget constraints and lack of                  
 training of personnel as reasons why videotaping in such cases has            
 not been performed.  The State should spend money on this in order            
 to deal with it properly.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 209                                                                    
                                                                               
 Senator Taylor acknowledged that the bill had been hastily drafted            
 and they had not been able to work with the department yet.  He               
 recognized that in some instances, the application of the bill may            
 be difficult.  Hospital directors have expressed concern that they            
 would be required to have someone trained to do videos in the                 
 emergency room; women's shelters have similar concerns.  He hoped             
 that everyone involved would come forward in order to work on this            
 issue to avoid situations like the one described in the Ombudsman's           
 Report.  The Ombudsman's Report recommended that case workers                 
 retain their original file notes and maintain them in the case                
 file.  In the case the Ombudsman investigated, not only were the              
 original file notes lost but also the transcription of those notes            
 were lost.  Furthermore, the agency refused to accept that                    
 recommendation by the Ombudsman's recommendation.                             
                                                                               
 Number 246                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO pointed out that Senator Taylor's example of                     
 videotaping drunk drivers videotapes the perpetrator rather than              
 the victim as in a child abuse case.  She believed videotaping an             
 abused minor was meritorious in drawn out cases, however, caution             
 should be taken in order not to further victimize the child.  She             
 indicated that videotaping the accused perpetrator of child abuse             
 at the time of the charge could be important.  She asked if the               
 bill allows a case to be thrown out because no videotape was taken.           
 SENATOR TAYLOR said yes and agreed with Senator Salo's concerns.              
 Senator Taylor hoped that the committee process would result in a             
 better SB 188.                                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if the report was the response to the                     
 feasibility study that the Ombudsman recommended for the Division             
 of Family & Youth Services.  SENATOR TAYLOR replied yes.                      
                                                                               
 Number 281                                                                    
                                                                               
 DEL SMITH, Deputy Director of Division of Public Safety, opposed              
 SB 188 as currently written.  He believed that capturing an                   
 interview on video or audio produces a good product which should              
 always be strived toward.  The provision of the bill that the                 
 prosecution of the suspect would not go forward if that videotape             
 was not done causes great concern and is the reason the department            
 opposes the bill.  In the case of a drunk driver, the prosecution             
 would not be precluded even without the audio or video.                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked if any videotaping was currently being done in             
 any child abuse and neglect cases.  DEL SMITH replied yes.  Mr.               
 Smith believed that at least four departments have rooms                      
 specifically set up to interview children.                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR noted that Chief John Newell's letter reported that            
 Sitka routinely videotapes interviews of children regarding                   
 suspected abuse.  DEL SMITH said that Chief Newell's letter                   
 represented his personal opinion.  Mr. Smith seemed to think that             
 SB 188 would require that a conversation, perhaps with a teacher,             
 began by a child would have to be stopped in order to videotape the           
 conversation.  That is a concern because not all the people a child           
 could have a conversation with are under Mr. Smith's control and              
 would that information be unusable.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 324                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked if videotaping as an investigative technique or            
 protocol was the trend.  Will there be more than four rooms in the            
 state for such videotaping in the next few years?  DEL SMITH                  
 believed that if videotaping is possible then it should be done.              
 The main concern is that if for some reason be it a logistical or             
 a technical difficulty the videotape is not done, then the person             
 could not testify as to their conversation with the child.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR inquired as to how the bill could be changed in                
 order to avoid that problem while encouraging the utilization of              
 videotaping.  DEL SMITH was unsure.  In Mr. Smith's view, the goal            
 of videotaping is desirable and should be obtained.  Mr. Smith                
 suggested that evidence could be presented in order to explain why            
 a video was not acquired in a particular case.  Mr. Smith mentioned           
 another bill which had an audio tape serve as a backup, however,              
 again the inability to continue with only notes is a concern.                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR discussed an experience on the bench which                     
 illustrated his fear that the department would not find videotaping           
 convenient.  He admitted that he was not comfortable with the                 
 dismissal of a case without video, but what other method could be             
 utilized in order to encourage the use of videotaping in suspected            
 child abuse cases.  DEL SMITH offered to consult with law                     
 enforcement across Alaska in order to make some recommendations.              
 The intent of legislation such as this should be the protection of            
 the victim and future victims.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 391                                                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE WORLEY, Director of the Division of Family & Youth Services             
 (DFYS),  stated that the division is opposed to SB 188 as currently           
 written.  She acknowledged that the issues of accountability, the             
 safety of children,  and the protection of families are all                   
 important. Concerns regarding the mandatory aspect of the bill were           
 reiterated.  She mentioned that there are many field offices which            
 are one person offices.  In the current system, mandatory                     
 videotaping in every case is impossible.                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN inquired as to how many cases are handled each year.           
 DIANE WORLEY informed the committee that there are approximately              
 20,000 reports of which about two-thirds are investigated.                    
                                                                               
 DIANE WORLEY stated that requiring every case be videotaped would             
 also require lots of time, effort, and money.  She pointed out that           
 often children in these cases move around during the interview                
 which would create difficulties in acquiring a good quality film of           
 that testimony.  Furthermore, DFYS wants to protect the interests             
 of the child without being any more intrusive than the interviewing           
 process already poses.  DFYS feels that for some children the video           
 camera and additional people in the room during the interview would           
 be inhibiting.  Also some of the children, especially those                   
 involved in sexual abuse, experienced video cameras as part of the            
 abuse which could be damaging to that child.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 427                                                                    
                                                                               
 Ms. Worley recognized that one issue taken with DFYS is that they             
 take too many children into their custody.  Children are taken into           
 State custody only when absolutely necessary.  Under this bill's              
 mandatory provision, more children would be taken into emergency              
 custody in order to take the child to a place to videotape the                
 interview.  Also if parents do not consent to the interview being             
 videotaped, children would have to be taken into emergency custody            
 in order to comply with the mandatory provision of the bill.                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if parents can currently deny an interview               
 with the child in the home and would the division then take                   
 emergency custody of the child.  DIANE WORLEY replied yes.                    
                                                                               
 DIANE WORLEY informed the committee that she had been Director for            
 only ten months.  She did believe there to be some inconsistencies            
 within the system as it is applied across the state, however,                 
 flexibility to address the different communities and families is              
 necessary.  There are policy and procedural manuals that are to be            
 followed by the staff.  Those manuals are being updated in order to           
 create more consistency across the state.  Also the issue of                  
 training is important.  Ms. Worley did not believe that the                   
 division has had enough training for the staff.  This is being                
 reviewed through the establishment of a new training plan.  The               
 division is also reviewing accreditation procedures for social                
 workers in order to be consistent with youth service staff and                
 juvenile probation officers who are accredited.  Another area under           
 review is the hiring procedures; tighter requirements for the                 
 register and becoming a social worker are being worked on.  Ms.               
 Worley also expressed the need to review the notion of cross-                 
 training with DFYS and DPS, especially in the cases of sexual child           
 abuse because they are criminal cases.  DFYS does try to videotape            
 an interview with DPS in such cases, although it may not be the               
 initial interview.  Ms. Worley noted that some rooms for                      
 videotaping purposes are being set up in nonprofits.                          
                                                                               
 Number 476                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if that would cover DFYS personnel.  DIANE               
 WORLEY clarified that some nonprofits are setting up rooms in areas           
 where such rooms are unavailable at the police station.  The                  
 availability of rooms is increasing across the state.  Ms. Worley             
 mentioned that there is a pilot project in the Anchorage Providence           
 Hospital in which all children who are sexually abused go through             
 a videotaped interview at the Child Advocacy Center.                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
 Ms. Worley expressed concern with the costs brought about by this             
 bill.  Mandatory videotaping would require the necessary equipment            
 and staff as well as training to carry out this provision.  She               
 indicated that money would probably be funneled to the training of            
 operating video equipment rather than training on interview                   
 techniques.  There would also be concerns regarding the                       
 confidentiality of the tapes; who would have access to the tapes?             
 Where would the tapes be stored and what would that cost?  She                
 mentioned the cost of transcription.  What would happen to a case             
 if the audio portion was not good quality and not usable?                     
                                                                               
 Number 504                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER expressed concern with Ms. Worley's admittance that            
 the staff lacked training and yet they still are allowed to go into           
 the field without using resources to better their training.                   
 Senator Miller felt that training should be a priority.  DIANE                
 WORLEY agreed and reiterated that the division is moving in that              
 direction.  Ms. Worley emphasized that the majority of the staff is           
 well trained, but there has been a reduction in available training            
 over the past years.  Ms. Worley explained that as budgets have               
 decreased so has training since it is often considered a luxury;              
 however she did not agree with that view.  Ms. Worley reiterated              
 that the division is reviewing accreditation and hiring procedures.           
 Also there is the possibility of a testing procedure for basic                
 skills before an employee is placed on the register.                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER asked if all notes taken on a child abuse or neglect           
 case are kept in the file or are they being destroyed.  DIANE                 
 WORLEY reiterated that the division is updating its policy and                
 procedures manual of which that is a portion.  Ms. Worley clarified           
 that in the Ombudsman's case, the original notes were destroyed but           
 the transcription was not destroyed and was present in the file.              
 Ms. Worley believed that those notes should have been in the file.            
 A committee is working on the policy and procedure manual in which            
 that issue will be addressed.  Currently there is no policy                   
 requiring that the notes be placed in the file.                               
 SENATOR MILLER did not understand why that issue is being reviewed            
 due to the importance of that information.  DIANE WORLEY reiterated           
 that she had only been the director for a short time and was                  
 proceeding as best she could on the issues.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 539                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Worley if he was correct in that DFYS                
 handles a child abuse case differently than a child sexual abuse              
 case.  In a child sexual abuse case, the child's interview is                 
 videotaped at some point.  DIANE WORLEY replied yes and explained             
 that the child sexual abuse cases are mainly in the criminal courts           
 as opposed to the civil courts.  Because DFYS works closely with              
 public safety officers in order to establish the criminal case,               
 DFYS works with them in obtaining videotape.                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR surmised that Ms. Worley was referring to another              
 category with child abuse cases.  Therefore, the protocol is not to           
 do videotaping in child abuse cases.  DIANE WORLEY explained that             
 current protocol views video and audio taping as something that can           
 be done, but there is not the capability or equipment to do so in             
 all cases.  Ms. Worley reiterated the impracticality of attempting            
 to videotape every interview due to logistical obstacles.                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the current protocol regarding child sexual           
 abuse cases, forces the child to have an additional interview.                
 This child has probably been interviewed three or four times by the           
 time the case is determined to be sexual abuse in which the                   
 interview must be videotaped.  Because the video is not done early            
 or done by DFYS, the enforcement personnel must do another                    
 interview with the child.  DIANE WORLEY explained that when there             
 is suspected child sexual abuse and disclosure begins, the                    
 interview is often stopped and DPS is contacted so there would not            
 be multiple interviews.  In most cases, regardless of the                     
 videotaping, a child would probably face two interviews.  SB 188              
 would require that the disclosure in front of a camera would begin            
 before DFYS even knew if there was anything to interview.                     
                                                                               
 Number 573                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR inquired as to how Ms. Worley's testimony would                
 differ if the department wanted to do this videotaping.  DIANE                
 WORLEY said that she could not respond to that hypothetical                   
 question.  In her opinion, mandatory videotaping would not work               
 under any circumstance.  However, Ms. Worley did believe that there           
 are situations in which videotaping is appropriate such as child              
 sexual abuse cases.  Audio taping can also be useful.  Mandatory              
 videotaping is impractical and would put more children at risk.               
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR reiterated that police officers do everything                  
 possible to obtain the best possible evidence to make the case.               
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-6, SIDE B                                                             
                                                                               
 Senator Taylor asserted that this department indicates that under             
 no circumstance would they be forced to videotape and it would be             
 avoided at all costs and there are separate protocols for how cases           
 are handled.  If the case looks as if it will go to court, then law           
 enforcement utilizes videotaping.  He asked if the videotaping was            
 being done in the department's offices.                                       
                                                                               
 DIANE WORLEY specified that where an interview is videotaped                  
 depends upon the community in which the case is located.  Also                
 joint interviews are done with DPS in sexual abuse cases.                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR clarified that he meant, DFYS is adopting law                  
 enforcement's protocol.  DIANE WORLEY explained that the protocol             
 of DFYS regarding child sexual abuse cases is that DFYS works with            
 DPS.  SENATOR TAYLOR emphasized that the protocol for DFYS does not           
 include videotaping while law enforcement protocol does include               
 videotaping.  DIANE WORLEY agreed, but noted that DFYS does have              
 protocol which strives for the best evidence possible through                 
 appropriate interviewing techniques and case work.  However,                  
 videotaping is not being utilized in every case.                              
                                                                               
 Number 568                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that the people of Alaska, even in                 
 territorial days, required that every committee hearing be                    
 transcribed as well as the votes on the floor which illustrates the           
 importance of keeping records.  He encouraged the department to               
 keep better records of these incidents for both sides of the case.            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN requested that Ms. Worley work with the sponsors on            
 this bill.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO observed that DFYS and DPS have different missions.              
 The mission of DFYS is the protection of the child while the                  
 mission of DPS is to create a criminal case.  Therefore, the                  
 protocols of the two differ as well.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER asserted that the lack of a paper trail is                     
 unexcusable.                                                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO felt that Senator Miller's statement was a gross                 
 generalization.  In the Ombudsman's Report, the Ombudsman did note            
 that the paper trail could have been handled differently.  She was            
 sure that there is a paper trail and records on the cases in DFYS.            
 She did agree that sometimes it could be better.                              
                                                                               
 DIANE WORLEY stated that there is a clear paper trail.  Ms. Worley            
 surmised that Senator Miller was referring to the handwritten notes           
 which are often taken in a person's individual short hand.  All               
 those transcribed notes are kept in the file as well as every                 
 contact with the family.                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR identified another mission of DFYS, to reunite the             
 family.  DFYS has to make a discretionary call on whether to                  
 reunite the family or prosecute based on the interview.  When that            
 decision is made, then the very best evidence should be available.            
 He expressed disappointment and frustration in all the excuses why            
 DFYS does not want to have the best evidence.                                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN informed the witnesses that their testimony should             
 be limited to three minutes.  If several people representing an               
 organization have the same thought, perhaps, one spokesperson could           
 outline the organization's position.  Any information can also be             
 faxed to 465-3805 which will be distributed to the committee                  
 members.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 528                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOANN HAWK, testifying from Bethel, opposed SB 188.  She discussed            
 the access problems in the rural areas.  She felt that putting                
 children, especially those in the Bethel area, in front of a video            
 camera would make these children feel more ashamed.                           
                                                                               
 CONNIE TROMBLE, speaking on behalf of a native woman from Alaganik,           
 opposed SB 188.  She explained that Upiaks are very shy and are not           
 accustomed to being on camera; this would jeopardize rather than              
 help the situation.                                                           
                                                                               
 HELEN SORENSEN, testifying from Bethel, informed the committee that           
 she had been working with children for the past ten years.                    
 Children often feel that abuse is their fault.  She felt that                 
 children would feel victimized again when they are videotaped as              
 well as when they go to court.  Because of the quiet nature of the            
 natives in the area, videotaping would be intimidating.  She                  
 mentioned the need for confidentiality in the videotaping.  She               
 posed a situation in which the family could find fault with the               
 interview or the videotaping, that staff would be liable and                  
 scrutinized for their work.  Many will have their jobs on the line,           
 especially if they are unexperienced in this area.                            
                                                                               
 Number 472                                                                    
                                                                               
 CARMEN LOWRY, Executive Director of the Tundra Women's Coalition              
 (TWC), explained that TWC provides a range of services from                   
 emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual                 
 assault to legal amnesty for victims testifying in court.  TWC                
 provides these services in the Yukon-Kuskokim Delta Region which              
 encompasses 100,000 square miles and approximately 52 villages.               
 She expressed concern with SB 188 which she did not believe had               
 received the necessary time and scrutiny.  She was concerned that             
 SB 188 was not intended to increase the safety of abused children,            
 but rather to enhance the public's trust in the fairness of the               
 child protection system.  SB 188 will not improve the public's                
 perception nor will it encourage more children to speak out about             
 their abuse.  Therefore, training for child protection staff must             
 be improved as well as creating public confidence in the State's              
 system.  Ms. Lowry questioned the quality of justice being offered            
 to the young victims under SB 188 when the burden of the public's             
 perception of state agencies is placed on the backs of the victims.           
 Currently, there are no mandatory requirements for the videotaping            
 of adult victims.  She pondered the extent to which child victims             
 of violent crime should be treated differently than adult victims.            
 She urged the committee to oppose SB 188.  Imagine being a child              
 that does not speak English as their first language and lives with            
 the perpetrator of their abuse; what can leaders and policy makers            
 do in order to protect these children and make them feel safe when            
 reporting abuse?                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 439                                                                    
                                                                               
 ANNE CARPENETI, Criminal Division of the Department of Law, opposed           
 SB 188 for the following reasons:                                             
                                                                               
  (1)Videotaping can be intrusive and intimidating to anyone,                  
  especially children.  In imagining what it would be like to be               
  a child disclosing abuse or neglect to a stranger, Ms.                       
  Carpenenti was reminded of her own adolescent daughter having                
  to go into another room to tell her she received a C on a math               
  test.                                                                        
  (2) The bill is too broad.  The bill covers the first                        
  conversation a child would have with a teacher; before the                   
  teacher could ask who did it, a video camera would have to be                
  obtained in order to record the disclosure.  That is                         
  impractical and unfair to the child.  This applies to                        
  prosecutors and public defenders but not to private attorneys                
  or private investigators which affords them an unfair                        
  advantage.  The department also fears that unrecorded                        
  interviews would be suppressed by being found to be illegal.                 
  (3)  The resources necessary to administer this bill would                   
  divert the scarce resources of the State.  SB 188 would limit                
  the ability to protect children.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Department of Law opposed the protocol            
 of DPS in which they do everything possible to videotape the                  
 juvenile before the case goes before the District Attorney.  ANNE             
 CARPENETI said no and clarified that the Department of Law opposes            
 the mandatory nature of SB 188.  Of course, the Department of Law             
 wants the best possible evidence in every case, but it is not                 
 appropriate to mandate the videotaping of every interview with a              
 child.                                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER expressed confusion with Ms. Carpeneti's testimony             
 that videotaping would be intimidating to the child, but when DPS             
 performs the videotaping there is no problem.  ANNE CARPENETI                 
 clarified that often when the police perform the videotaping, there           
 are one way mirrors and other ways in which it is not intrusive and           
 not intimidating.  A video camera would be intimidating no matter             
 what the circumstances.  When prosecutors interview children, they            
 attempt to make the experience as easy as possible.  The department           
 does not oppose videotaping and in many cases videotaping would be            
 preferable in order to eliminate multiple interviews.  However,               
 SB 188 sweeps too broadly.                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR said that he and Senator Miller agreed.  He                    
 explained that the department doing the initial investigations                
 should act consistently with the department that does the                     
 prosecutions.  He did not want to see cases thrown out due to the             
 lack of a videotape, but at the same time the pattern of throwing             
 out 70 percent of the cases before the department should not                  
 continue either.  He hoped that the department would assist in the            
 development of a better system.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 374                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO noted that currently, Alaska allows police officers              
 and agencies to utilize video and audio taping and bring that into            
 the court.  No states have mandatory videotaping requirements.  She           
 emphasized that videotapes are not an absolute assurance that the             
 evidence would proceed smoothly in court.  In some states that                
 utilize videotapes more than in Alaska, the technical issues of the           
 videotape become the focus.  She pointed out that the arguments               
 regarding how notes are taken could be applied to the videotaping             
 as well.  The intent of the sponsors is good, but the legislation             
 is not worth trying to fix.  The pieces to achieve the intent is              
 already in law.  If the intent is to improve the use of                       
 videotaping, then the money necessary for the equipment and for               
 more taping sites could be placed in the budget.                              
                                                                               
 Number 348                                                                    
                                                                               
 HELEN MEHRKENS, Department of Education, opposed SB 188 as                    
 currently written.  She reiterated the concerns surrounding the               
 privacy and protection of the child.  Also the implementation of              
 the bill is reason for concern; as written, a child's initial                 
 conversation with school personnel would be considered the initial            
 interview.  The school is not prepared to videotape those                     
 conversations which often begin as a regular counselor visit, a               
 guidance process or clarification process.  Attempting to obtain              
 and set up the video equipment that would more than likely be                 
 located in another classroom would be disruptive to the child who             
 would be conversing with a person, determining whether they are a             
 safe person to talk with or not.  Ms. Mehrkens expressed concern              
 with the prospect that the conversations a child might discuss in             
 the classroom before an investigation took place would be                     
 considered part of the interview process also.  Most of these                 
 children continue in the classroom as the investigation continues.            
 Would the teacher not be allowed to ask how the child is doing or             
 any other nurturing types of conversations?                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that AS 47.17.027 provides that any time           
 an interview is done by the department in the school, a teacher               
 must be present.  In the Ombudsman's Report, there is a required              
 agreement between the department and the school regarding how such            
 incidents would be handled.  Then a finding must occur in order to            
 determine if the teacher would be allowed to be present during the            
 interview.  In the Ombudsman's Report, no such agreement had be               
 entered into with this pre-school not to mention that they violated           
 law in the manner in which the interview was done.  The person who            
 came to perform the interview insisted that the teacher not be                
 present during the interview.  That illustrates a tremendous amount           
 of discretion by a staff member that the department has agreed is             
 very poorly trained.  Are there ways in which the utilization of              
 video and audio tapes could be encouraged?  He reiterated that 70             
 percent of the cases return the child to the home because of the              
 inability to prosecute the case.  He expressed concern that when a            
 poor case is developed, the child is returned to the same house               
 with no protection.  He did not believe that all 70 percent were              
 bad cases.  Senator Taylor requested that Ms. Carpeneti review how            
 the school districts implement Title 47, if the school districts              
 have agreements with DHSS, and to what degree is it working.                  
                                                                               
 Number 265                                                                    
 DAN LABROSSE informed the committee that he had been a social                 
 worker for Alaska, had been trained by DFYS, and had conducted                
 these interviews.  He stated that the interviews were very                    
 difficult.  He specified that he has a masters degree in                      
 counseling, is a specialist in deafness, and he worked mainly with            
 families with disabled children.  Families with disabled children             
 have a tendency for abuse.  Throughout his time as a social worker,           
 he utilized video cameras whenever possible, especially in sexual             
 abuse cases.  Sexual abuse cases are the hardest in which to obtain           
 solid evidence.  Often the only access to video equipment was                 
 through the police or the military police.                                    
                                                                               
 Mr. LaBrosse emphasized that this type of evidence is difficult to            
 obtain.  A trusting relationship must be developed with the child             
 in a short time period; it is easier to do this in familiar and               
 comfortable environments such as the home.  Some children are non             
 verbal and require the use of anatomically correct dolls.  He noted           
 that he would observe how a child would react to a teacher's                  
 presence.  Mr. LaBrosse suggested that observation rooms with one             
 way mirrors could be useful.  He mentioned that there is research             
 regarding setting up such rooms.  He emphasized that there should             
 not be any impediments to the access of this information.  In                 
 conclusion, Mr. LaBrosse noted that many incidents of child abuse             
 are not even reported which is frightening.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO inquired as to how often Mr. LaBrosse experienced                
 false reports.  DAN LABROSSE specified that he was a social worker            
 for a year and a half and did not remember having a false report.             
 Mr. LaBrosse noted that he would not take custody of a child unless           
 he believed that the child was in imminent danger.  There are                 
 different degrees of intrusiveness regarding taking custody of the            
 child.  The intrusiveness can range from emergency custody to                 
 placing the child in a foster home.  Mr. LaBrosse felt that he was            
 extremely well trained through the division.  Mr. LaBrosse                    
 encouraged making the bill work.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 168                                                                    
                                                                               
 MICHELE CALLAHAM, Executive Director of Unalaskans against Sexual             
 Assault and Family Violence, said that she was an opponent of SB
 188 as currently written.  She did not believe that videotaping               
 would resolve the concern regarding the training of a social worker           
 in order to administer effective and appropriate interviews.  Since           
 this is a training issue, better safeguards in regulation and                 
 policy and procedure should be reviewed.  She emphasized that                 
 efforts should be focused in that area.  SB 188 is an extreme                 
 measure.  Ms. Callaham informed the committee that Unalaska is 800            
 miles from Anchorage and their social worker is charged with                  
 serving the entire Aleutian Pribolof Region which is isolated,                
 often with inclement weather.  She could not imagine how their                
 social worker could do her job effectively if the social worker was           
 constantly concerned about the interview of a child, the                      
 availability of video equipment and a room in which to utilize the            
 equipment.  Ms. Callaham was concerned with Alaska's high child               
 abuse and sexual abuse rate and the training of the social workers.           
 Ms. Callaham supported all the comments made by Ms. Lowry.                    
                                                                               
 Number 111                                                                    
                                                                               
 LINDA GAUTHIER, testifying from Homer, informed the committee that            
 she was representing Guardians of Family Rights.  She agreed with             
 the observation that those in this field do not want this bill.               
 She emphasized that the policy and procedures in place are not                
 being followed and there is no accountability.  There needs to be             
 a check an balance that protects the child, the family as well as             
 the social worker.  She indicated that it is easy to lead a child             
 in such cases.  Videotapes do not lie and can be very useful.                 
                                                                               
 GENE OTTENSTROER, Guardians of Family Rights, stressed that a                 
 parent should be notified before an interview occurs.  She asserted           
 that there is child abuse and a lot of it is in the department.               
 She suggested that cutting the funding to these departments would             
 decrease the child abuse.  Videotaping is necessary and should be             
 administered by a third party.                                                
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-7, SIDE A                                                             
                                                                               
 PAM GRANT, Stand Together Against Rape, stated that SB 188 was not            
 in the best interest of the child.  Children do not have a high               
 trust level when speaking only to adults, this trust level must be            
 developed at their own pace.  A child is placed in an uncomfortable           
 position when the child is interrupted during the disclosure                  
 process in order to videotape the interview.  Ms. Grant opposed               
 SB 188.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 039                                                                    
                                                                               
 JENNIFER BOSTICK, testifying from Ketchikan, informed the committee           
 that she had been abused.  She did not believe that SB 188 was                
 right.  It was hard enough to talk to a complete stranger about               
 what happened and she did not believe she could have disclosed the            
 information in front of a camera.                                             
                                                                               
 DUANE STONE, Officer in the Ketchikan Police Department, said that            
 he did use video cameras as often as possible, but he attempts to             
 be as low profile as possible with children.  He reiterated concern           
 that a case could be lost because videotaping was not available.              
 Often the foresight or knowledge that a disclosure is coming in               
 order to prepare to videotape the disclosure is not present.                  
 Ketchikan does have a facility to utilize concealed cameras for               
 interviewing children.  Videotaping is not practical in all cases,            
 especially in cases of neglect.  DFYS often makes trips to the home           
 of such a reported case and discovers that it is not valid.                   
 Storing a tape of that for evidence purposes for two to three years           
 would seem ludicrous.  Officer Stone believed that videotaping                
 should be done whenever possible, but mandatory videotaping is of             
 great concern.  He discussed the concern about technical                      
 difficulties being a reason for not proceeding with a case.                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN recognized that there were three people in Anchorage           
 who are affiliated with Women In Safe Homes (WISH).  She requested            
 that one person act as a spokesperson for the group due to the lack           
 of time remaining.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 128                                                                    
                                                                               
 KRISTI HERRMAN, Women In Safe Homes, stated that SB 188 is not                
 intended to protect children but rather punish DFYS for some                  
 perceived inefficiency.  If there are problems with the training              
 aspect of DFYS, that could be addressed in other forums.  Requiring           
 that children be videotaped and not adults or perpetrators merely             
 sustains the misconception that children are inherently                       
 unbelievable.                                                                 
                                                                               
 DAN MORRIS, Chief of the Kenai Police Department, opposed SB 188.             
 The bill requires a trained investigator.  Kenai does not have the            
 luxury of sending all of its investigators to that training.  In              
 sexual abuse cases, videotaping is always strived towards but it is           
 not always possible to videotape every interview.  Chief Morris               
 reiterated the difficulty in stopping a spontaneous interview that            
 could happen in any number of places, from a squad car to school.             
 The child is traumatized further when the interview is stopped in             
 order to move to a place where the videotaping could occur.  Chief            
 Morris agreed with Senator Salo in that there is nothing                      
 salvageable in SB 188.  The issues can be addressed through                   
 regulation, policies, procedures and training as Ms. Callaham                 
 mentioned.                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRENDA WIEFFERING, Executive Director of the Kenai-Soldotana                  
 Women's Resource and Crisis Center, opposed SB 188.  The bill does            
 not provide for the spontaneous disclosure of abuse.  Disclosure              
 would be inhibited when the interview is stopped in order to set up           
 video equipment.  Videotaping children is intimidating and                    
 victimizing, especially repeatedly.  Furthermore, the videotaping             
 would not eliminate court testimony which is also very traumatic.             
 If the concern is in the interviewing techniques, such as using               
 leading statements, then training is the cure not videotaping the             
 victim.  Ms. Wieffering felt that as long as the potential for                
 child abuse remained, adults should be willing to undergo the                 
 scrutiny not the child victim.  Requiring that all interviews be              
 videotaped is not realistic and would interfere with effective                
 prosecution which leaves children in further danger.                          
                                                                               
 Number 201                                                                    
                                                                               
 WALT BONNER, Chief of the Soldotna Police Department, opposed                 
 SB 188 as it is currently written.  SB 188 is too broad and                   
 therefore the likelihood of losing cases because of the lack of               
 equipment.  Often these cases are reported during the night to a              
 dispatch center and a patrol officer is dispatched to the home.               
 Videotaping that initial probable cause interview is not practical.           
 He agreed that the formal interview should be videotaped, but                 
 videotaping every interview is impractical.                                   
                                                                               
 HARRY NEHAUS, Guardians of Family Rights, supported SB 188.  He               
 posed the following question: what is traumatic?  Is traumatic a              
 few moments in front of a camera where the child may be intimidated           
 or is traumatic a separation from the family.  Most children are              
 not shy in front of a camera, but if they are then the camera could           
 be placed in an office with something draped over it.                         
                                                                               
 GENE ALTIG, representing himself, informed the committee that he              
 was also a member of the Guardians of Family Rights and a member of           
 the Mormon church.  Mr. Altig supported SB 188.  Video cameras are            
 everywhere and weigh very little.  For example, without videotaping           
 in the Rodney King case no one would have known that Mr. King had             
 stopped resisting arrest while the police did not notice.  Often              
 counselors involved in emotional issues such as child abuse and               
 molestation, allow their journalism to get carried away.  Mr. Altig           
 suggested that a desk could be utilized to serve as security for              
 the child and anchor the child for videotaping.                               
                                                                               
 Number 277                                                                    
                                                                               
 JODY DELANEY noted that the uniforms of Alaska's officers have                
 videotapes.  There is no check and balance.  She informed the                 
 committee that her family was destroyed due to the lack of checks             
 and balances.  The school is not set up nor is it qualified to do             
 social service work and these people do not want to be a part of              
 the social service system.  She informed everyone that Alaska leads           
 the nation with 60 percent of reported cases being false.  Alaska             
 also has the highest rate of sexual abuse.  If that 60 percent is             
 eliminated, then the case load is decreased and more time is left             
 for the other cases.  In conclusion, Ms. Delaney said that the                
 children are not against this.                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER acknowledged that there is work yet to be done on              
 the bill, but the lack of the department's attempts to work through           
 the problems is frustrating.  He stated that this bill would be               
 moving through the process and it would be to their advantage to              
 come forth to work out a solution.                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that if 60 to 70 percent of all of the             
 criminal cases in any other areas were lost, would we feel                    
 comfortable returning that percentage back to society?  Perhaps,              
 mandating videotaping may not be the solution.  Senator Taylor                
 agreed with observations of difficulty in the implementation of the           
 bill, but something more than leading the nation in the number of             
 cases dismissed is necessary.  That problem needs to be addressed.            
 He encouraged all concerned about the legislation to come forward             
 with information to increase good prosecutions and protection for             
 the children.                                                                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN invited anyone interested to send suggestions,                 
 amendments, or deletions to the committee.  The bill was held.                
 Anyone who did not testify was welcomed to submit their testimony             
 for the record.  There being no further business before the                   
 committee, the meeting was adjourned at 10:54 p.m.                            
                                                                               

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