Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

01/25/2017 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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01:34:03 PM Start
01:38:17 PM Presentations by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
02:58:24 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Presentation by the Alaska Criminal Justice TELECONFERENCED
Commission
Susanne DiPietro, Executive Director, Alaska
Judicial Council
Kris Sell, Commissioner
Brenda Stanfill, Commissioner
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        January 25, 2017                                                                                        
                           1:34 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator John Coghill, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                             
Senator Pete Kelly                                                                                                              
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATIONS BY THE ALASKA CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE DIPIETRO, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Judicial Council                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Delivered an overview of the Alaska                                                                      
Criminal Justice Commission.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LT. KRIS SELL, Commissioner                                                                                                     
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission;                                                                                             
Lieutenant, Juneau Police Department                                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on the implementation of SB 91.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA STANFILL, Commissioner                                                                                                   
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission;                                                                                             
Executive Director, Interior Center for Non-Violent Living;                                                                     
Member, Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                                                         
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on the implementation of SB 91.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
1:34:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  JOHN   COGHILL  called   the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:34  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Costello,  Meyer,  Wielechowski, Kelly  and                                                               
Chair Coghill. He asked the  members to introduce their judiciary                                                               
staff and then he reviewed his expectations for this session.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^Presentations by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission                                                                        
    Presentations by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:38:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  announced the business before  the committee would                                                               
be  to  hear  presentations  from  the  Alaska  Criminal  Justice                                                               
Commission  about  the  work  it  has  been  tasked  to  do,  the                                                               
implementation of SB  91, and the areas that  may need additional                                                               
attention. He welcomed Suzanne DiPietro and thanked her work.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:41:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SUZANNE  DIPIETRO, Executive  Director, Alaska  Judicial Council,                                                               
delivered an  overview of the Alaska  Criminal Justice Commission                                                               
("Commission).  She reminded  the committee  that the  Commission                                                               
was  established in  2014  as  part of  the  omnibus crime  bill,                                                               
Senate Bill 64.  In 2016, Senate Bill 91 extended  the sunset for                                                               
the  Commission to  June  30,  2021 and  added  duties. When  the                                                               
Commission  was   created,  the  legislature  asked   the  Alaska                                                               
Judicial Council to staff it and provide administrative support.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She  reviewed  the  membership of  the  Alaska  Criminal  Justice                                                               
Commission  ("Commission"). It  has  11 voting  and 2  non-voting                                                               
members.  The  two Governor  appointees  are  from municipal  law                                                               
enforcement  and  a  victims' rights  advocate.  These  positions                                                               
currently  are filled  by Lt.  Kris Sell  with the  Juneau Police                                                               
Department and Brenda Stanfill with  the Interior Center for Non-                                                               
Violent  Living.  The member  from  the  Alaska Native  community                                                               
designated  by the  Alaska Native  Justice Center  is Greg  Razo,                                                               
Chair of Cook  Inlet Region Incorporated (CIRI).  The director of                                                               
the  Mental  Health Trust  or  designee  is Jeff  Jessee,  Mental                                                               
Health Trust Authority (MHTA) Program  Officer. The Chief Justice                                                               
appointees from  each level  of court  are: District  Court Judge                                                               
Stephanie  Rhoades, Superior  Court  Judge  Trevor Stephens,  and                                                               
retired  justice  Alex  Bryner. The  state  agency  commissioners                                                               
include   Attorney  General   Jahna   Lindemuth,  Department   of                                                               
Corrections  Commissioner  Dean  Williams, Department  of  Public                                                               
Safety  Commissioner Walt  Monegan, and  Public Defender  Quinlan                                                               
Steiner. The  non-voting legislative appointees are  appointed by                                                               
the   Senate   president   and    Speaker   of   the   House   of                                                               
Representatives.  These  members  are Senator  John  Coghill  and                                                               
Representative Matt Claman.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:44:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  DIPIETRO  reviewed  the  powers and  duties  of  the  Alaska                                                               
Criminal Justice Commission that are  laid out in the authorizing                                                               
statute, AS  44.19.645. The  first responsibility  is to  look at                                                               
the  laws  and  practices  in the  criminal  justice  system  and                                                               
evaluate whether  the state is  getting the desired  results. The                                                               
factors to  consider include protection of  the public, community                                                               
condemnation of offenders,  the rights of victims,  the rights of                                                               
the accused,  restitution and the  principle of  reformation. She                                                               
noted that some  of these factors work together and  some work in                                                               
tension.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The second general area of  responsibility is data collection and                                                               
analysis.  She said  the Commission  is in  a unique  position to                                                               
consider empirical information about how  the system is or is not                                                               
working, and consider studies about  the most effective things to                                                               
do in  the criminal justice  system. The Commission  has embraced                                                               
the concept  of being data-driven  and making decisions  based on                                                               
what is  happening on the  ground, what  has proven to  work, and                                                               
what has been proven not to work.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
In 2015, legislature  leadership sent a letter  to the Commission                                                               
giving it  a third  special charge. The  Commission was  asked to                                                               
develop  recommendations to  meet the  following goals:  1. avert                                                               
all future prison  growth; 2. avert all future  prison growth and                                                               
reduce the current prison population  by 15 percent; and 3. avert                                                               
all  future   prison  growth  and   reduce  the   current  prison                                                               
population by  25 percent. A  large part of the  discussion about                                                               
meeting these  goals if whether  prison growth can  be controlled                                                               
while public safety is protected.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO reviewed the  Commission methodology. The Commission                                                               
has been meeting approximately every  other month since September                                                               
2014.  Working groups  were established  to  deal with  technical                                                               
aspects  of proposals.  These groups  met once  or twice  between                                                               
Commission meetings  to get all  the commissioners  familiar with                                                               
the  empirical  information  and  data  so  they  understood  the                                                               
problems that  were facing  the state. Early  in the  process the                                                               
entire  Commission agreedto  make decisions  based on  evidence,                                                               
data, and empirical information.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:49:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  DIPIETRO displayed  a list  of  the factors  included in  AS                                                               
44.19.645 that  the Commission must  consider when  if formulates                                                               
recommendations. She again  pointed out that some  of the factors                                                               
work  in  tension.  "We  want  to be  able  to  rehabilitate  the                                                               
offender [and]  we also want  to have  victims be heard.  We want                                                               
the offenders  to be able  to pay restitution  and to be  able to                                                               
make the community  whole for the harm that  they've caused [and]                                                               
we  also   want  to  express  community   condemnation  of  their                                                               
conduct."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She  talked about  the  ways  the Commission  has  worked on  the                                                               
statutory charge to "[S]olicit information  and obtain views from                                                               
a variety  of constituencies so  as to obtain the  broad spectrum                                                               
of  views  that exist  with  respect  to possible  approaches  to                                                               
sentencing  and  administration of  justice  in  the state."  The                                                               
Commission  electronically publishes  all  its meeting  schedules                                                               
and sends email  to people who want notification  of meetings and                                                               
agendas.  The  Commission   also  actively  solicits  stakeholder                                                               
participation,  public  comment,  and  participation  from  rural                                                               
areas. She  relayed that  she is particularly  proud of  the work                                                               
the  Commission did  in  2014  and 2015  reaching  out to  victim                                                               
groups. She  displayed a list  of additional factors  included in                                                               
AS  44.19.646  that  the  Commission   considers  when  it  makes                                                               
recommendations. They  illustrate the  complex level  of analysis                                                               
the Commission undertakes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:53:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DIPIETRO  reviewed the challenges facing  the Commission. One                                                               
of the motivating  factors for the Commission is  the rather high                                                               
rate of  recidivism. Depending  on the study,  between 58  and 66                                                               
percent  of  inmates return  to  jail  within three  years.  Most                                                               
return within six months of  release. "Alaska can do better," she                                                               
said.  The  Commission  has   also  learned  through  stakeholder                                                               
involvement  that  community  treatment  resources  and  violence                                                               
prevention  programs are  not available  for  many offenders  who                                                               
need them.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The  Commission   is  also  very   aware  that   Alaska's  prison                                                               
population grew by 27 percent in  the last decade. That is almost                                                               
three times  faster than the  growth of the  resident population.                                                               
At that  rate of  growth, Alaska will  exceed the  current prison                                                               
bed capacity this year.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The Commission also learned that  Alaska has been over reliant on                                                               
prison as a response to crime.  The data shows that 75 percent of                                                               
offenders that  entered prison  in 2014 had  been convicted  of a                                                               
nonviolent offense.  Prison time  for sentenced  felony offenders                                                               
had risen  31 percent over the  past decade. In 2014,  28 percent                                                               
of prison  beds were  occupied by  pretrial detainees.  These are                                                               
people who  had not yet been  convicted of a crime.  Studies from                                                               
other states  and empirical  information demonstrate  that longer                                                               
prison stays  do not reduce  recidivism more than  shorter prison                                                               
stays. She said that might seem  counter intuitive but there is a                                                               
point of diminishing  returns. The expense of  keeping someone in                                                               
prison for a long period of  time is not improving the recidivism                                                               
rates.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
The  Commission  also  learned  that  more  than  60  percent  of                                                               
offenders on probation and parole  were returned to prison within                                                               
the first three months of release.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:57:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COGHILL noted  that  this  topic had  generated  a lot  of                                                               
interest;  Senator Micciche,  Senator  Hughes and  Representative                                                               
Reinbold were in the audience.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO asked if there were any questions or comments.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said it's startling  to hear that 75 percent                                                               
of  inmates have  committed  a nonviolent  crime,  but he's  been                                                               
hearing  from constituents  that nothing  is happening  to people                                                               
who  commit  property  crimes. The  police  have  also  expressed                                                               
concern  that there  is not  a lot  of action  they can  take. He                                                               
asked her to comment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO  said the Commission  has heard those  concerns from                                                               
both  law enforcement  officers  and  municipal prosecutors,  and                                                               
there  are two  separate issues.  The first  is whether  a person                                                               
should  be  incarcerated  pretrial.  The officer  has  to  decide                                                               
whether to  issue the person a  summons to appear in  court later                                                               
or arrest  the person  and take  them to jail.  Once they  are in                                                               
jail, it's  a matter  of whether  they can make  bail or  be held                                                               
until  their case  is resolved.  The practice  in this  state has                                                               
been  to  arrest  and  rely  on prison.  The  Commission  had  to                                                               
consider  whether  that  was  a  good use  of  prison  beds.  The                                                               
Commission learned that about 50  percent of the people that were                                                               
arrested, taken to  jail, and charged with a crime  were held the                                                               
entire time before their case  was resolved. [Senate Bill 91] had                                                               
a solution that is being implemented.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The second  issue is about  whether a person should  receive jail                                                               
time as  part of  their sanction. This  also relates  to Alaska's                                                               
overreliance on prisons.  In 2014 over 300 people  were serving a                                                               
sentence for  stealing something that  was worth less  than $250.                                                               
Ninety-three  percent   of  the   cases  were   shoplifting,  and                                                               
toiletries and  alcohol were most frequently  stolen. On average,                                                               
those people spent 23 days in jail.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL said the committee  will look at the bail schedule,                                                               
the escalating  incidence of small  theft crimes,  and sentencing                                                               
associated with  class C felonies.  He hopes  to come out  of the                                                               
next two meetings with some recommendations.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:03:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said he too has  heard that crime is  up in                                                               
Anchorage and people are scared  because of the bill that passed.                                                               
He  asked her  to remind  the committee  about which  portions of                                                               
Senate  Bill  91 have  been  implemented.  If  areas need  to  be                                                               
changed that should  be said, but if there is  a misperception it                                                               
should  be corrected.  He asked  if she  has empirical  data that                                                               
would lead  her to believe  that the bill  has led to  an overall                                                               
uptick in crime in Alaska.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO  said the commission  has been looking at  the crime                                                               
rate in Alaska  and Anchorage over 30 years, and  there have been                                                               
times in the  past when the rate  was quite a bit  higher than it                                                               
is now. The  current uptick in crime began 2-3  years ago, before                                                               
the  Commission was  created.  She explained  that  the bill  has                                                               
three parts. The  part that became effective in July  2016 had to                                                               
do with penalties  for crimes. The part that  became effective in                                                               
January 2017  has to do with  the changes in the  way that people                                                               
on felony  probation and parole  are supervised. The  third part,                                                               
that has  not gone into effect  yet, has to do  with the pretrial                                                               
release provisions.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She said  she too has  heard that  people are confused  about the                                                               
bail schedule.  That is  something that  the presiding  judges of                                                               
the Court  System put into  effect and  it wasn't really  part of                                                               
the  bill. The  idea was  that by  2018 there  will be  important                                                               
changes to  the pretrial process.  There will  be a tool  to help                                                               
attorneys  and judges  decide who  can be  safely released  while                                                               
they are waiting for their case  to be resolved and who should be                                                               
held.  She  said  both  the Department  of  Corrections  and  the                                                               
Commission are working hard to implement that piece.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  commented that timelines  are an issue  in several                                                               
areas.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO  relayed that she  is personally excited  about some                                                               
of the changes in probation and parole.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:10:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DIPIETRO  directed attention  to the Alaska  Criminal Justice                                                               
Commission report  in the packets on  alcohol-related offenses in                                                               
Title 28.  This was  mandated by Senate  Bill 91.  The Commission                                                               
looked  at  what is  currently  happening  with DUI  and  refusal                                                               
offenses and what studies show  is effective. The Commission also                                                               
made recommendations for the legislature to consider.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL commented  that the committee will  also be looking                                                               
at the Title 4 reforms.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO  said the legislature  also directed  the Commission                                                               
to   submit   a   restitution   report.   It   contains   several                                                               
recommendations  on ways  to improve  restitution collection  for                                                               
victims  of  crime.  The  report   also  provides  a  substantial                                                               
background on  restitution processes in Alaska  and statistics on                                                               
restitution  collection.  She  noted  that  the  Commission  will                                                               
continue to work on restorative justice going forward.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senate  Bill 91  also  mandates  a report  on  the potential  for                                                               
social  impact  bonds to  reduce  recidivism  rates. This  report                                                               
explains how social impact bonds work,  how they might be used in                                                               
conjunction with  programs that reduce recidivism,  and how other                                                               
similar projects have worked in other states.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
On November 1,  2016, the Commission submitted  its annual report                                                               
to the  legislature. It summarizes  the Commission's work  in the                                                               
past year and lays out its plans for the future.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  relayed that each  of the reports are  in members'                                                               
packets.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:13:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DIPIETRO  discussed other recommendations the  Commission has                                                               
made.  Recognizing  the   connection  between  behavioral  health                                                               
issues and criminal offenses, the  Commission formed a behavioral                                                               
health committee. It is looking  at how the behavioral health and                                                               
criminal justice systems can work  together to reduce recidivism.                                                               
To this end,  the Commission has recommended  the Commissioner of                                                               
the Department of  Health and Social Services become  a member of                                                               
the Commission.  A second recommendation is  that the legislature                                                               
enact a statute creating a  standardized "release of information"                                                               
form  that  will  be universally  accepted  by  all  state-funded                                                               
agencies providing health and behavioral health services.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The  Commission  also  reviewed Alaska's  presumptive  sentencing                                                               
structure and proposes a mitigator  that would allow prosecutors,                                                               
defense attorneys, and victims to resolve cases more timely.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  requested a final  report to the  legislature that                                                               
lists all the recommendations.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:15:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  DIPIETRO reviewed  the  future work  of  the Commission.  As                                                               
required by Senate Bill 91,  the Commission formed a workgroup to                                                               
study  Alaska's laws  on sex-related  offenses  to determine  "if                                                               
there  are  circumstances  under which  victims'  rights,  public                                                               
safety, and the rehabilitation of  offenders are better served by                                                               
changing the  existing law."  This is a  complex topic  and there                                                               
isn't a timeline for the report.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senate  Bill  91 also  directed  the  Commission to  oversee  the                                                               
implementation  of the  statutory changes  it brought  about. The                                                             
Commission   is   collecting   data  from   the   Department   of                                                               
Corrections,  the  Alaska Court  System,  and  the Department  of                                                               
Public Safety  to monitor  the effect of  new criminal  laws. The                                                               
data will be reported to the legislature in November of 2017.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO said  the Commission also is  reviewing the concerns                                                               
that have been expressed about  the implementation of Senate Bill                                                               
91 and hopes to get through the list by Friday.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:17:25 PM                                                                                                                    
LT. KRIS SELL, Commissioner,  Alaska Criminal Justice Commission,                                                               
said she works as a  lieutenant for the Juneau Police Department.                                                               
She has been  on the Commission since it started,  and she joined                                                               
with  a  commitment  to  be  tough on  crime,  just  as  she  has                                                               
throughout her  law enforcement  career. "I  want people  who are                                                               
hurting other  people to  be in  jail and  I want  us to  be safe                                                               
walking our streets." She related  that she sat through the first                                                               
year of  meetings with her  arms mentally crossed,  because there                                                               
was a lot of science she  did not want to hear. Nevertheless, she                                                               
was  forced  to  confront  some  of  her  secret  theories  about                                                               
criminal behavior.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
She described  the secret theory  that there's a sweet  spot that                                                               
correlates the  time in  prison with a  certain crime.  After the                                                               
person serves their time in prison,  they can be released and the                                                               
public will be  safe. She admitted that the  science doesn't bear                                                               
that  out.  When  she  saw  she was  arresting  the  same  people                                                               
repeatedly she finally had to  admit that continuing addiction or                                                               
untreated  mental  illness  has  a  lot to  do  with  why  people                                                               
continue to commit  crimes. "I had to  come to a place  in my own                                                               
reasoning  that  what I  was  thinking  was  tough on  crime  was                                                               
actually just being tough on people."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL related  that when  she made  a mistake  as a  child it                                                               
didn't matter  why she did it  or what she was  thinking. She was                                                               
punished.  She  opined  that  the state  has  been  treating  its                                                               
criminal population  in much the  same way, and it  hasn't worked                                                               
out very well.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL  said  her new  vision  is  to  look  at why  a  person                                                               
committed  a   crime,  identify  the  motivator   to  change  the                                                               
behavior, and  relentlessly supervise  that. Put things  in place                                                               
like  drug testing,  required  employment,  and supervision  that                                                               
actually  treats the  situation.  It's being  tough  on crime  by                                                               
rehabilitating  the person  from being  a criminal.  These things                                                               
cost money  and budgets are  getting smaller,  so the idea  is to                                                               
try to  save money by keeping  people out of prison  and spending                                                               
that money on things that actually change the criminal behavior.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She  acknowledged that  some  parts  of the  bill  have not  been                                                               
implemented  and  some didn't  work  out  as envisioned.  The  18                                                               
months suspended  sentence for  a class C  felony is  an example.                                                               
Some felons would rather flat-time so  they won't need to be drug                                                               
tested or  supervised when  they are  released. Drug  and alcohol                                                               
treatment is expensive,  but the cost of  not providing treatment                                                               
is also  very expensive. It  just shifts the expense  to whatever                                                               
the drug addict steals to feed his/her habit.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:27:57 PM                                                                                                                    
LT.  SELL concluded  her  comments saying  "It's  always been  my                                                               
intent  to  be  tough on  crime.  I  think  we  owe that  to  our                                                               
communities, but we need to  resist the emotional satisfaction of                                                               
believing that being tough on people is the same thing."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:29:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL said there has been  a lot of outcry that the tools                                                               
for petty  theft have not  worked. The  police need the  tools to                                                               
hold offenders so they don't become scofflaws.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL  said  she  didn't  foresee  the  operational  problems                                                               
associated  with changing  violating conditions  of release  to a                                                               
violation. It  was a surprise  when judges said they  didn't have                                                               
the authority to open the underlying case.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL said he likes the  idea of being tough on crime but                                                               
not tough on people.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL added  that refusing  to provide  treatment for  a drug                                                               
addict encourages crime.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:32:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO expressed appreciation  for the response she has                                                               
gotten from  Ms. DiPietro,  the Mayor of  Anchorage, the  head of                                                               
the crime unit for the  Anchorage Police Department, the director                                                               
of  the Alaska  State Troopers,  the deputy  commissioner of  the                                                               
Department of Public  Safety, the member of  Recovery Alaska, and                                                               
the UAA  Justice Center  for participating  in the  roundtable in                                                               
her community to discuss concerns about Senate Bill 91.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
She  said a  comment  on  a social  media  site held  legislators                                                               
responsible for  police no  longer having the  tools to  do their                                                               
job.  She asked,  "Have  we  in any  way  affected your  personal                                                               
interaction  with an  Alaskan who's  been  victimized and  you're                                                               
looking at what to do with the perpetrator?"                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LT. SELL  said each  situation is different,  but there  has been                                                               
some  frustration expressed  about no  jail time  for the  first-                                                               
class C  felony. There  are impacts  that are  a response  to the                                                               
bill, there's interplay with other  things like less prosecutions                                                               
because district attorney offices  don't have adequate funding to                                                               
prosecute, and there is a  bail schedule that suggests OR release                                                               
for all  misdemeanor crimes unless  a judge is contacted.  At the                                                               
same  time, the  Department  of Corrections  (DOC)  is trying  to                                                               
manage the  risk of  in-custody deaths by  not taking  people who                                                               
are  very drunk  into custody.  Those are  the people  that often                                                               
commit   crimes  so   that  consumes   more  resources   for  law                                                               
enforcement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A lot  of things are going  on in the same  environment as Senate                                                               
Bill 91  and several  of those  things contribute  to frustration                                                               
for law enforcement and the public.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:38:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL said the level  of frustration has risen and Senate                                                               
Bill 91  has become  the focus of  those frustrations.  What this                                                               
committee will  do is try  to address those  frustrations. "Drugs                                                               
and alcohol and  behavioral health [issues] are  just kicking the                                                               
feet out from under us."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL said  it's a  tough environment  right now,  but Senate                                                               
Bill 91 did not happen in a vacuum.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:40:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  related the  frustration and  resistance he                                                               
is   hearing  from   both  constituents   and  the   police.  One                                                               
constituent maintained  a lady  was robbed because  of SB  91 and                                                               
that the bill would protect the  offender from arrest even if the                                                               
police did catch him.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LT.  SELL said  that is  probably a  reference to  the change  in                                                               
penalty for a first-time class C felony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI  emphasized   the   need  to   effectively                                                               
communicate to the police about  what the bill actually does. "If                                                               
there are problems, I want to address those problems head on."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LT. SELL agreed that communication  about the bail schedule needs                                                               
to  improve  because   it  appears  that  there   is  no  visible                                                               
enforcement. She related that officers  in Anchorage quit calling                                                               
magistrates,  even  when  they  thought  someone  was  dangerous,                                                               
because the  magistrates wouldn't approve  any bail. "We  need to                                                               
drill down on what exactly caused that particular assessment."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL said  it's also important to keep in  mind that the                                                               
Municipality  of Anchorage,  Juneau,  Fairbanks,  and North  Pole                                                               
have police  departments that  enforce misdemeanants  whereas the                                                               
rest of Alaska is enforced by  the state. "We don't want to shift                                                               
things to communities if they don't have the resources."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL thanked  Lt. Sell and invited Ms.  Stanfill to come                                                               
forward.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:44:03 PM                                                                                                                    
BRENDA   STANFILL,   Commissioner,    Alaska   Criminal   Justice                                                               
Commission, stated  that she  is also  the Executive  Director of                                                               
the Interior  Center for Non-Violent  Living and a member  of the                                                               
Network  on Domestic  Violence and  Sexual  Assault. She  relayed                                                               
that  she too  came  to  the Commission  with  a  tough on  crime                                                               
mindset  after  working 21  years  in  social services.  She  had                                                               
advocated  for tougher  penalties when  she saw  the same  people                                                               
show  up as  a  new  victim year  after  year.  The advocacy  was                                                               
successful, and  the legislature  imposed felony  level penalties                                                               
for repeated domestic violence and  theft offenses. But it didn't                                                               
reduce the numbers of these crimes.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She referred to  the previous testimony that the  uptick in crime                                                               
started 2-3  years ago. She pointed  out that at that  same time,                                                               
the  mental health  system in  Fairbanks went  bankrupt. Assisted                                                               
living homes closed  and there were just eight  treatment beds in                                                               
the entire community. Communities  statewide experienced the same                                                               
sort of cutbacks  and opioids and heroin use  increased. She said                                                               
she  never found  a needle  for the  first 15-16  years that  she                                                               
operated  the Fairbanks  shelter,  but now  it's  common to  find                                                               
needles when a room is cleaned.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Detox  services  are  similarly   difficult  to  access.  Chronic                                                               
inebriates  used  jail as  a  homeless  shelter  but the  new  OR                                                               
release  conditions  mean  they  can't stay  even  when  it's  50                                                               
degrees below  and they want  to stay  in jail. She  relayed that                                                               
this  has  caused  some violent  outbursts  and  jeopardized  the                                                               
safety of  law enforcement. "We  have to  be aware that  when you                                                               
have no  resources for  where you  can go and  it's 50  below and                                                               
you're cold  and you're  drunk, you're going  to do  something to                                                               
get in  jail, because that's  the only place  safe for you  to go                                                               
right then."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STANFILL said  she has embraced the statement  that "We can't                                                               
criminalize our  way out  of social  issues." What  she's excited                                                               
about now  is that they  are starting to  see the results  of the                                                               
reinvestment  dollars that  SB 91  put  into prevention  programs                                                               
such as  "Coaching Boys to Men."  She related a story  that ended                                                               
tragically and emphasized the pressing  need to provide resources                                                               
so  victims  don't become  offenders.  She  also highlighted  the                                                               
positive  experience  of a  magistrate.  She  asked what  made  a                                                               
difference for him  and he said three people entered  his life at                                                               
a pivotal point and helped him get into sports.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
She said  she understands  the frustrations  with Senate  Bill 91                                                               
from the  victim advocacy  perspective, but  she believes  it was                                                               
the  right  thing to  do.  Putting  people  in jail  without  any                                                               
opportunity  for  treatment  just   perpetuates  the  cycle.  She                                                               
expressed willingness  to go  back and take  another look  at the                                                               
things the Commission may have  gotten wrong and excitement about                                                               
what it  continues to do.  She concluded,  "As the person  who is                                                               
representing victims, we really need to focus on restitution."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  thanked  Ms.  Stanfill  and  all  the  Commission                                                               
members and briefly discussed the agenda going forward.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:58:24 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Coghill adjourned the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee                                                                 
meeting at 2:58 p.m.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
ACJC Behavioral Health Recommendations.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
ACJC Annual Report.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
ACJC Mitigator Recommendation.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
ACJC Restitution Report.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
ACJC Presentation.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission
ACJC Title 28 Report.pdf SJUD 1/25/2017 1:30:00 PM
Alaska Criminal Justice Commission