Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/25/1997 01:50 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE April 25, 1997 1:50 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chair Senator Drue Pearce, Vice-chair Senator Mike Miller Senator Sean Parnell Senator Johnny Ellis MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 6(FIN) am "An Act relating to minors and amending laws relating to the disclosure of information relating to certain minors." PASSED SCSCS HB 6(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 4(JUD) Relating to records generated and maintained by the Department of Health and Social Services. PASSED HCR 4 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30 Relating to the creation of a new United States Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Circuit. PASSED HJR 30 am OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HB 6 - See Senate Judiciary minutes dated 4/23/97. HCR 4 - No previous Senate committee action. HJR 30 - No previous Senate committee action. WITNESS REGISTER Representative Pete Kelly Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 6 Walter Majoros Executive Director Alaska Mental Health Board 431 N. Franklin #101 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 6. Laura Rorem POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 6. Dr. Russell Hoffman 140 Kilbuk Bethel, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 6. Jeff Logan Legislative Aide to Representative Green Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for sponsor of HJR 30. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-31, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 1:50 p.m. and announced the presence of Senators Miller and Parnell. The first order before the committee was HB 6. HB 6 RELEASE OF INFORMATION ABOUT MINORS REPRESENTATIVE PETE KELLY , sponsor of HB 6, discussed an amendment (#1) submitted to the committee (0-LS0063\CA.5). The amendment is the result of an agreement with the Administration. Previously the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) requested that juveniles get a second chance on the adjustment side. He compromised with DHSS, and allowed a second chance for juveniles who committed burglary, but not for committing the other crimes listed in the bill. A later amendment was adopted that provided a second chance for all of the crimes listed in the bill, and consequently a juvenile who committed burglary would get a third chance. That was not the intention of either DHSS or himself. The amendment before the committee would cleanup that error. SENATOR PARNELL moved the adoption of amendment 1 (0-LS0063\CA.5). There being no objection, the amendment carried. Number 058 SENATOR PARNELL asked Representative Kelly to describe two other amendments submitted to the committee (0-LS0063\CA.1 - amendment REPRESENTATIVE KELLY explained amendment #2 was requested by the Municipality of Anchorage and allows court proceedings to be open. In the confidentiality bill, many things were opened but not the court proceedings. The language in amendment #2 was taken from the Governor's dual sentencing bill and was recommended by the Governor's Task Force on Youth and Justice but is a little bit milder than the Governor's version. The Governor was leaving the decision to open court proceedings to the discretion of the District Attorney. Amendment #2 gives that discretion to DHSS and says the proceedings shall be open unless DHSS petitions. It is consistent with the rest of the bill. SENATOR PARNELL moved to adopt amendment #2 for discussion purposes and asked where the idea for amendment #2 originated. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY answered amendment #2 was requested by the Municipality of Anchorage. Number 084 SENATOR PARNELL asked Representative Kelly to elaborate on the differences between amendment #2 and the provision in the Governor's bill. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY replied the Governor's Task Force version says that when a District Attorney is elected to seek imposition of a dual sentence, the court proceedings shall be open to the public, except where prohibited by order of the court. It also sets out criteria for a minor who is 16 years old, has committed a felony offense against a person, and was previously adjudicated. It is consistent with HB 6 in that it requires that the person was previously adjudicated but differs in that it says the District Attorney shall seek open hearings. He thought DHSS would be the more appropriate entity because most of these cases are handled by them, and they would have more familiarity with each case. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced there was no objection to amendment #2, so it was adopted. SENATOR PARNELL moved amendment #3 for the purpose of discussion. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY explained that lines 10-13 of amendment #3 enable a state or municipal agency employee to disclose information regarding a case to school officials to enable the school to provide appropriate counseling and supportive services to meet the needs of the minor. The idea behind amendment #3 is to include school officials so that they can be part of the solution. Providing this information to the school will also enable it to protect others. Number 132 SENATOR PARNELL asked why, on page 2, line 11, information may be disclosed to the victim or the victim's insurance company. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY answered the victim's insurance company can be left out of loop and which makes it difficult to collect damages. SENATOR PARNELL questioned whether there is any reason to be concerned that disclosure be made to just the victim's insurance company, without the victim in the loop. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY said the insurance company may have already paid claims for the victim and then needs copies of the police reports to collect for damages. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR believed an additional reason is that the victim may not have the right to disclose that information to other parties. The victim is in a contractual relationship with the insurance company and is required by the contract to cooperate with the insurance company in seeking subrogation from the juvenile. The victim would be put in the position of having to break confidentiality which carries sanctions and penalties. Number 174 SENATOR PARNELL asked if the intent is that disclosure by a state or municipal agency is limited to disclosures under AS 47.12. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY replied it is. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced there was no objection to amendment #3, therefore it was adopted. Number 190 WALTER MAJOROS, Executive Director of the Alaska Mental Health Board, made the following comments. The Board is concerned about the impact of HB 6 on children who have mental illnesses and disorders. These children are often not diagnosed until they come in contact with the juvenile justice system. Recent statistics about the interface between the juvenile justice system and mental health system reports similarities with the adult system where approximately 29 percent of the 4,000 inmates in the Department of Corrections have mental illnesses. The Board is concerned that our system tends to criminalize people with mental illnesses and serious emotional disorders. Disclosing information about these juveniles will stigmatize and ostracize them and, instead of guiding them to treatment programs rather than the criminal justice system, they will eventually end up in the adult system. The Board understands the need for a balance between confidentiality and disclosure as the issue of public safety becomes more critical, but it does not believe HB 6 achieves the appropriate balance. It favors amendments that would prevent disclosure until adjudication takes place and to disallow disclosure for adjusted cases. The Board has heard from many parents who are concerned that the release of their children's names would have had a very detrimental effect on the treatment of their children who were in similar situations in the past. Number 237 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented the Legislature today is more sensitized toward the disclosure of confidential information than it was three or four days before and will take Mr. Majoros' comments into consideration. He noted HB 6 will be heard before the Finance and Rules Committees if additional amendments need to be discussed. He thought all legislators are concerned about the dilemma that is imposed by the delicate balancing act between disclosure and confidentiality, and what the impacts may be on the mental health community. He asked Mr. Majoros to consider how to make definitional changes to remove that category of juveniles from the disclosure provision. He noted his concern that last year the committee heard legislation to try to address a situation where a mentally ill adult repeatedly sexually abused children but continually fell through the crack between the criminal justice and mental health systems. The difficulty in addressing that legislation centered around the definitions. MR. MAJOROS replied that a narrow fix is to allow DHSS to petition to keep information confidential for youth with serious mental illness or disorders. In terms of statutory definition, one is contained in the enabling legislation for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority that defines the mentally ill beneficiary group. A problem, however, is the assumption that when a youth enters the criminal justice system for the first time, the mental illness or disorder has been diagnosed. In many cases that is not the situation. It is very possible information will be released to the community at large, and then while the juvenile is within the criminal justice system, the mental illness will be diagnosed. Although DHSS' ability to petition is a narrow fix, it does not totally address the problem. SENATOR PARNELL clarified that the disclosure would not contain information about a mental illness. MR. MAJOROS agreed but noted that one of the most difficult issues children with mental illnesses have to deal with is the issue of stigma. Name disclosure for criminal activity will further stigmatize that juvenile and exacerbate the condition. After disclosure, the community often "writes off" that juvenile and leaves them to a life within the criminal justice system as opposed to a life with appropriate treatment to normalize the individual. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented it has been difficult to get the appropriate professional assistance for these youth, especially in rural communities. If a diagnosis can even be made, the Title 47 process kicks in to provide services, but without a specific diagnosis and recommendation, nothing can be done. He added he has seen people utilize the criminal justice system so that people can get the services they need because it is more efficient or effective at providing the immediate attention these people need. MR. MAJOROS agreed and said he is presently working with a judge in Anchorage to try to identify those misdemeanants with mental illnesses who are often arrested on nuisance charges, and to provide them with more appropriate treatment options. Anything that can divert children with mental health problems from the criminal justice system and into community treatment settings will minimize future criminal activity. SENATOR ELLIS arrived at 2:12 p.m. Number 322 LAURA ROREM , representing herself, referred to written testimony she submitted about juveniles with mental illnesses and her concern with the impacts of placing these juveniles in the criminal justice system. She stated by publishing the names of these juveniles, it becomes more difficult for both the parents and children to get appropriate services. DR. RUSS HOFFMAN of Bethel said he worked with Representative Kelly and DHSS during the past few days to perfect the bill. He appreciated Representative Kelly's sincere concern during that process. He noted that one additional meeting was scheduled that evening. REPRESENTATIVE KELLY responded to the concerns expressed about juveniles with mental illnesses. He reminded members there is a petition process so that DHSS can ask that the court not publish the names of certain individuals. Second, on the adjustment side, the names are only disclosed for a second conviction of a serious crime. DHSS will have had prior experience with these juveniles. The theory behind HB 6 is that if continued criminal activity cannot be controlled by DHSS, the community needs to know because of the seriousness of the crimes. Crimes such as vandalism and shoplifting are not included in the bill and it does contain provisions allowing for second chances. Number 382 SENATOR PARNELL moved CSHB 6(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. HCR 4 DHSS RECORDS FOR DELINQUENTS & CINA REPRESENTATIVE KELLY , sponsor of the measure, explained HCR 4 allows DHSS to reorganize in such a manner that disclosure can occur without a significant loss of federal funds. SENATOR PARNELL moved HCR 4 from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. HJR 30 ENDORSE US COURT OF APPEALS-12TH CIRCUIT JEFF LOGAN , legislative assistant to Representative Joe Green who sponsored HJR 30, explained that the resolution provides legislative support for a court system that is more responsive to Alaska's needs and specifically to S 431 which has been introduced by Senator Murkowski. A March 12 press release from Senator Murkowski reports that Senator Stevens, Senators Craig and Kempthorne of Idaho, Senator Smith of Oregon, and Senator Gorton of Washington have cosponsored the legislation, however Senator Burns from Montana was also a co-sponsor. Because of that omission in the press release, Senator Burns' name was not included in HJR 30. Mr. Logan asked the committee to consider amending HJR 30 to add Senator Burns' name on page 1, line 10. SENATOR PEARCE asked why anyone would oppose HJR 30. MR. LOGAN answered he does not know of anyone who does. He added there was a question on the House floor in reference to a lawsuit the state has an interest in that is named in the resolution but there was no opposition during House committee hearings. SENATOR PARNELL moved HJR 30 as amended from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR adjourned the committee at 2:23 p.m.