Legislature(2011 - 2012)BUTROVICH 205

02/03/2011 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        February 3, 2011                                                                                        
                           9:00 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Bill Wielechowski, Chair                                                                                                
Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                             
Senator Catherine Giessel                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Joe Paskvan, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 7                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to the civil rights of felons."                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
SENATE BILL NO. 30                                                                                                              
"An Act providing for the release of certain property in the                                                                    
custody of a law enforcement agency to the owner under certain                                                                  
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 7                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: FELONS' RIGHT TO VOTE OR BE JURORS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DAVIS                                                                                                    
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/03/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 30                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY                                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DYSON                                                                                                    
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/03/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 7.                                                                                          
TOM OBERMEYER, Staff to Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 7 for the sponsor.                                                                           
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Criminal Division                                                                                                               
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 7.                                                                        
ALPHEUS BULLARD, Attorney                                                                                                       
Legal Services                                                                                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 7.                                                                        
CARMEN GUTIERREZ, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                           
Department of Corrections                                                                                                       
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained provisions of SB 7.                                                                             
DR. ALONZO PATTERSON, Pastor                                                                                                    
Shiloh Baptist Church                                                                                                           
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 7.                                                                             
CAL WILLIAMS, Vice President                                                                                                    
NAACP of Anchorage                                                                                                              
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 7.                                                                             
TROY BUCKNER, President                                                                                                         
Anchorage Urban League                                                                                                          
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 7.                                                                             
SENATOR FRED DYSON                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 30.                                                                                         
CHUCK KOPP, Staff to Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                         
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained provisions of SB 30.                                                                            
VICTOR KESTER, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska Office of Victims Rights                                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 30.                                                                            
LIEUTENANT RODNEY DIAL                                                                                                          
Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                           
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions concerning SB 30.                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
9:00:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BILL WIELECHOWSKI called the  Senate State Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee meeting  to order at 9:00  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were  Senators  Giessel, Meyer,  and  Chair  Wielechowski.                                                               
Senators Paskvan and Kookesh were excused.                                                                                      
           SB   7-FELONS' RIGHT TO VOTE OR BE JURORS                                                                        
9:00:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  announced the  first order of  business would                                                               
be SB 7.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR DAVIS,  sponsor of  SB 7,  stated this  is not  the first                                                               
time  this bill  has  been  introduced, but  it  is an  important                                                               
9:01:19 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM  OBERMEYER,  staff  to  Senator   Bettye  Davis,  noted  that                                                               
currently the right to vote remains  suspended from the date of a                                                               
felony conviction to  the date of release from  all provisions of                                                               
the sentence, including probation  and parole. Harsher sentencing                                                               
laws  have  allowed  the  prison  population  to  balloon,  while                                                               
reducing rehabilitative  programs to almost  nonexistent. Article                                                               
1, Section 12, of the  Alaska Constitution requires that criminal                                                               
administration   shall   be   based  upon   the   philosophy   of                                                               
reformation. He  stated that  in 2009  more than  10,000 Alaskans                                                               
were ineligible  to vote  pursuant to  this provision.  In Alaska                                                               
the prison  population increased  from 800  prisoners in  1984 to                                                               
over 5,000  prisoners in 2008,  an increase of over  600 percent.                                                               
Of those  incarcerated in Alaska,  48 percent were  Caucasian and                                                               
52 percent were minorities.                                                                                                     
MR. OBERMEYER  said that felons  face discrimination as  they try                                                               
to  reenter society,  and that  restoring  the right  to vote  is                                                               
critical to successful reentry  into society after incarceration,                                                               
and is  consistent with the  modern ideal of  universal suffrage.                                                               
He  added  that SB  7  would  limit disenfranchisement  to  those                                                               
actually incarcerated,  and would give  felons the right  to vote                                                               
upon   release.  Felon   disenfranchisement  standards   rest  on                                                               
outdated  practices,  and  former   U.S.  Supreme  Court  Justice                                                               
Marshall said it is doubtful  whether any state can demonstrate a                                                               
compelling interest in denying felons the right to vote.                                                                        
MR. OBERMEYER noted that the bill has a zero fiscal note.                                                                       
9:06:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked how "moral turpitude" is defined.                                                                           
MR. OBERMEYER  replied it  is defined  under AS  15.80.010(9) [AS                                                               
15.05.030(a)]  as  "those  crimes   that  are  immoral  or  wrong                                                               
themselves, such  as murder."  There appears  to be  no statutory                                                               
reference to felonies not involving moral turpitude.                                                                            
SENATOR  MEYER  then asked  for  a  definition of  "unconditional                                                               
9:09:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  OBERMEYER  responded  that  is a  better  question  for  Ms.                                                               
Gutierrez, but  the purpose of  SB 7  is to let  felony offenders                                                               
vote  immediately   upon  release  from  prison,   regardless  of                                                               
unconditional discharge.                                                                                                        
SENATOR MEYER  asked if  a person still  on probation  has served                                                               
his or her full sentence.                                                                                                       
MR. OBERMEYER responded  that probation is a  historic process of                                                               
allowing people to  perform while out of prison. The  only way to                                                               
easily administer this bill is  to give released felons the right                                                               
to vote  immediately. He noted  that if they  are reincarcerated,                                                               
then  their voting  rights can  be  taken away  again. They  have                                                               
served  good time  in  order  to get  parole,  and hopefully  are                                                               
better citizens when they are released.                                                                                         
SENATOR MEYER stated concern that  a person still on parole could                                                               
serve on a jury if SB 7 passes.                                                                                                 
9:12:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. OBERMEYER  replied that there is  no way to know  what people                                                               
will do  once released; but hopefully  they want to do  the right                                                               
thing,  and that  continued retribution  hinders  the process  of                                                               
reintegrating into society.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GIESSEL said  that  some of  the  felonies that  involve                                                               
moral  turpitude   are  sexual  abuse,  incest,   perjury,  child                                                               
pornography, endangering  the welfare of  a minor, and  misuse of                                                               
controlled substances. Some of these  have high recidivism rates,                                                               
and she is concerned about giving  felons the right to vote while                                                               
on probation. Current  law says that after a  felon has completed                                                               
parole or  probation, their  rights are  restored; in  fact, more                                                               
than  17,000 felons  had their  voting rights  restored in  2008-                                                               
9:14:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. OBERMEYER  said he doesn't see  this as a problem,  and noted                                                               
that  some states  don't  even  take voting  rights  away upon  a                                                               
felony   conviction.   He   further  stated   that   the   Alaska                                                               
constitution  is pointing  toward a  model of  rehabilitation and                                                               
reformation.  People must  have  their civil  rights restored  in                                                               
order to  be able to  vote. With modern procedures,  the Division                                                               
of Elections can change a  person's status on-line. Mr. Obermeyer                                                               
also  said  that the  ACLU  cites  a  study indicating  that  the                                                               
numbers  of people  who have  been re-enfranchised  shows a  link                                                               
between voting  participation and re-offense; those  who vote are                                                               
half as likely to be re-arrested.                                                                                               
9:18:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI noted  this  is a  good  discussion to  have,                                                               
because  recidivism is  a revolving  door  and the  costs to  the                                                               
state are enormous.                                                                                                             
9:19:26 AM                                                                                                                    
ANNE  CARPENETI, Assistant  Attorney General,  Criminal Division,                                                               
Department of  Law (DOL), stated  the department's  concerns with                                                               
SB  7  are  legal,  not   philosophical,  although  the  criminal                                                               
division  does  have  concerns  about  people  who  are  recently                                                               
released from  incarceration serving on  juries. Philosophically,                                                               
the DOL  shares the  sponsor's concerns.  She explained  that the                                                               
legal  issue  is  difficult, because  the  constitution  is  very                                                               
clear; there is no right to  vote until the person's civil rights                                                               
are  restored. Serving  on a  jury or  possessing a  handgun, for                                                               
instance, are civil rights and  being on probation or parole does                                                               
restrict a person's civil rights.                                                                                               
9:21:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked  if being on probation is part  of a person's                                                               
MS.  CARPENETI  replied  yes,  probation is  still  part  of  the                                                               
sentence  and the  conditions of  probation do  limit a  person's                                                               
civil rights.                                                                                                                   
9:22:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER stated  the voting part doesn't bother  him as much                                                               
as someone serving on a jury while still on probation.                                                                          
MS. CARPENETI  responded that a  person becomes part of  the jury                                                               
pool by virtue of applying for a PFD.                                                                                           
SENATOR MEYER asked if a person  serving a sentence may receive a                                                               
MS. CARPENETI  replied that PFDs  are suspended for  most felons.                                                               
She  emphasized  that the  Department  of  Law  does not  have  a                                                               
position on  SB 7 at this  point, but there are  practical issues                                                               
that need to be considered.                                                                                                     
9:24:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked what part  of the constitution  she was                                                               
referring to.                                                                                                                   
MS. CARPENETI said that it was Article 5, Section 2.                                                                            
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI read  from that document, "No  person may vote                                                               
who has  been convicted  of a felony,  until that  person's civil                                                               
rights  have been  restored." So  the question  remains, at  what                                                               
point a person's civil rights are restored.                                                                                     
MS. CARPENETI responded that under  current law, a person who has                                                               
been  convicted of  a  felony  can vote  when  the conditions  of                                                               
probation  and  parole  have  been   satisfied.  She  noted  that                                                               
definition is in statute.                                                                                                       
9:25:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if restoration is automatic  or part of                                                               
a process.                                                                                                                      
MS. CARPENETI  responded that  she believes they  can just  go to                                                               
the Division of Elections and register.                                                                                         
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  Mr. Obermeyer  to  walk the  committee                                                               
through the bill.                                                                                                               
9:26:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. OBERMEYER  said that  Section 1  would change  AS 9.20.020(2)                                                               
from a  person being disqualified  from serving as a  juror until                                                               
unconditional discharge to being  disqualified until release from                                                               
CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI   asked   if  unconditional   discharge   is                                                               
MR. OBERMEYER answered  that the disability has to  be removed by                                                               
the Department of  Corrections, and they send  information to the                                                               
Division of Elections, then the person  has to go the Division of                                                               
Elections  and   reapply.  In  the  past,   this  happened  after                                                               
unconditional   discharge.  He   noted   that   in  some   cases,                                                               
restitution is also  involved, which makes it  more difficult for                                                               
people to have their civil rights restored.                                                                                     
9:29:35 AM                                                                                                                    
He further  explained that  Section 2  changes AS  15.05.30(a) to                                                               
provide that  a person  convicted of a  crime that  constitutes a                                                               
felony involving moral turpitude under  state or federal law will                                                               
be  advised of  voter  registration  requirements and  procedures                                                               
upon release,  and the  Division of  Corrections will  notify the                                                               
Division  of  Elections  that  the   person  is  entitled  to  be                                                               
registered as a voter. Section  3 changes AS 15.07.135 to provide                                                               
that  the voter  registration of  a person  convicted of  a crime                                                               
involving  moral  turpitude will  be  cancelled  only while  that                                                               
person   is  incarcerated,   instead  of   until  that   person's                                                               
unconditional  discharge  from  custody.  Section  4  changes  AS                                                               
33.30.241(a) to provide  that a person convicted of  a crime that                                                               
constitutes  a felony  involving moral  turpitude under  state or                                                               
federal  law  is  disqualified  from  voting  while  incarcerated                                                               
instead  of being  disqualified  from voting  until the  person's                                                               
unconditional discharge.                                                                                                        
9:30:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked why SB 7 includes federal law.                                                                         
MR.  OBEMEYER responded  that  many  felony offenders,  including                                                               
most  drug  offenses, wind  up  in  federal prisons.  He  further                                                               
stated that  Section 5 changes  AS 33.30.241(b) as it  relates to                                                               
jury duty, and  Section 6 repeals AS  15.60.010(39), a definition                                                               
of unconditional discharge, and  AS 33.30.241(c), a definition of                                                               
unconditional discharge.                                                                                                        
9:32:31 AM                                                                                                                    
ALPHEUS   BULLARD,  Attorney,   Legal   Services,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that "federal" is  added on page  2, line                                                               
28, to create  a consistent standard. If someone is  able to vote                                                               
for governor or for mayor, they  should be able to vote for their                                                               
senator as well.                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked what the current law is.                                                                               
MR. BULLARD  replied he  believes a convicted  felon who  has not                                                               
been unconditionally  discharged is unable  to vote in  a federal                                                               
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked what  is being  repealed in  Section 6,                                                               
with the reference to AS 33.30.241(c).                                                                                          
MR. BULLARD  responded that it  is a conforming reference  to the                                                               
definition  of  unconditional  discharge  that  is  found  at  AS                                                               
CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI  asked,   "In  your   opinion  is   there  a                                                               
constitutional issue with this bill?"                                                                                           
MR. BULLARD stated that he does  not have a legal opinion on that                                                               
issue. He further stated that Article  5, Section 2 of the Alaska                                                               
State Constitution provides that a  person who has convicted of a                                                               
felony cannot  vote until  his civil  rights have  been restored.                                                               
What "civil rights being restored"  means for the purpose of this                                                               
clause has not been explored by our state's courts.                                                                             
9:36:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CARMEN GUTIERREZ, Deputy  Commissioner, Department of Corrections                                                               
(DOC), explained  she is responsible for  prisoner rehabilitation                                                               
and re-entry.  She said  that DOC is  committed to  upholding its                                                               
constitutional    responsibility    to   provide    reform    and                                                               
rehabilitation  for  persons  under  its  jurisdiction,  and  she                                                               
emphasized  that  they  are   trying  to  provide  rehabilitative                                                               
services  in  their  institutions,  and are  very  supportive  of                                                               
efforts to  reintegrate prisoners  into the community.  She noted                                                               
that in 2008  the DOC released 287 convicted  felons every month.                                                               
If  these  people are  not  successfully  reintegrated they  come                                                               
back;  Alaska's  recidivism rate  is  66  percent, and  most  are                                                               
within the first year of release.                                                                                               
MS.  GUTIERREZ further  noted that  page 2  of SB  7, under  (b),                                                               
states  "the   commissioner  of  corrections  shall   notify  the                                                               
director that the person is  entitled to be registered." She said                                                               
this  language makes  it appear  that the  commissioner is  being                                                               
asked to  render a  legal opinion,  and it  may be  better stated                                                               
that the person has been released from custody.                                                                                 
MS. GUTIERREZ also  said that, with regard to the  impact of SB 7                                                               
on  the   department,  when  an  individual   is  unconditionally                                                               
discharged from  probation, meaning he  or she has  satisfied all                                                               
conditions  of  probation  DOC  issues   a  notice  both  to  the                                                               
probationer and  the Division of  Elections. She noted it  may be                                                               
helpful  at  this point  to  understand  the differences  between                                                               
parole  and probation,  and between  mandatory and  discretionary                                                               
parole.  Discretionary  parole is  when  an  individual asks  for                                                               
early  release; if  the parole  board finds  it appropriate,  the                                                               
person will  be released  early. Mandatory  parole comes  when an                                                               
offender receives  the benefit  of good  time credit,  which most                                                               
offenders do; one-quarter  of their sentence is  reduced for good                                                               
behavior. She  further explained  that probation is  usually part                                                               
of a person's  sentence, and that mandatory  parole and probation                                                               
are  served at  the same  time;  probation can  be anywhere  from                                                               
three to  five to ten years.  In 2008 the DOC  released just over                                                               
1,700  people on  to parole  and  almost 7,000  on to  probation.                                                               
Today  the DOC  has  about 6,000  individuals  on probation,  and                                                               
approximately  850 are  on abscond  status, meaning  they are  no                                                               
longer  reporting,  and  warrants  have  been  issued  for  their                                                               
9:44:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  GUTIERREZ  further  explained  that  the  second  issue  for                                                               
consideration is  the filing  of petitions  to revoke  because of                                                               
failure to comply  with probation requirements. Over  a six month                                                               
period,  a   snapshot  review  showed  the   Anchorage  probation                                                               
department  filed 178  - 200  revocation  petitions every  month.                                                               
When  a  petition  to  revoke   probation  is  filed,  she  said,                                                               
sometimes  the  person is  arrested  quickly,  sometimes not.  So                                                               
there  could  be  some  record  keeping  logistics  in  terms  of                                                               
verifying  who is  incarcerated and  who is  not. She  emphasized                                                               
that  this is  something  to be  aware of,  but  the DOC  remains                                                               
supportive  of  all  efforts  to  rehabilitate,  consistent  with                                                               
preserving public safety.                                                                                                       
9:46:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted the  ACLU  says  that recent  research                                                               
finds  a link  between  voting participation  and re-offense,  in                                                               
which people  who voted after release  were half as likely  to be                                                               
re-arrested as those who didn't. He asked if the DOC agrees.                                                                    
MS. GUTIERREZ  stated she was  unaware of this research,  and her                                                               
consultant was  unaware of it, but  she would like to  review the                                                               
research.  She  finds it  very  interesting  and compelling,  but                                                               
can't yet comment on it.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  responded  that  if  restoration  of  voting                                                               
rights can  reduce recidivism, then  we are talking about  a huge                                                               
savings to state.                                                                                                               
MS. GUTIERREZ  stated that recidivism  can be reduced by  just 10                                                               
percent  it would  be a  huge  savings to  the state  and to  the                                                               
citizens,  because fewer  new victims  would be  created and  our                                                               
communities would be safer and healthier.                                                                                       
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  Ms.   Gutierrez  to  check  with  her                                                               
consultants and  see if they  agreed with this  research, because                                                               
that would  be a very  compelling reason  to pass SB  7. Reducing                                                               
recidivism and preventing future crimes,  he stated, would have a                                                               
very positive impact  on the state. He then asked  if a person is                                                               
automatically discharged once they  have completed the conditions                                                               
of their probation and parole.                                                                                                  
MS.  GUTIERREZ  replied that  when  a  person has  satisfied  the                                                               
conditions  of  their  probation  or parole,  they  are  given  a                                                               
document that states they are  unconditionally discharged, and at                                                               
that point they can register to vote.                                                                                           
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if  the DOC  has  any  problems  with                                                               
providing written notification of the unconditional release.                                                                    
MS. GUTIERREZ replied that the DOC is already doing that.                                                                       
9:50:32 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. ALONZO  PATTERSON, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist  Church, Anchorage,                                                               
said he has served with the  parole system for thirteen years and                                                               
that he supports  SB 7 to help people being  released from prison                                                               
feel they are  a part of society. When a  person is released, the                                                               
institution  says they  are rehabilitated,  but fulfilling  their                                                               
obligations  can go  on for  years, in  some cases  because of  a                                                               
technicality.  Dr.  Patterson stated  that  he  is supportive  of                                                               
felons having  the right  to vote  as soon  as they  are released                                                               
from jail.                                                                                                                      
9:55:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CAL WILLIAMS, Vice President, NAACP  of Anchorage, stated that he                                                               
served as a  commissioner on the prison  industry commission, and                                                               
that the  right to vote is  a key factor in  reducing recidivism.                                                               
He further  stated that the  NAACP stands for  rehabilitation and                                                               
reintegration  into  society, and  that  the  NAACP of  Anchorage                                                               
supports SB 7.                                                                                                                  
TROY  BUCKNER,  President,  Anchorage   Urban  League,  said  the                                                               
League's focus is  economic and educational parity  for people of                                                               
color  and  poor people,  and  that  the Anchorage  Urban  League                                                               
supports SB 7.                                                                                                                  
10:00:25 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  announced that  SB 7 would  be set  aside for                                                               
further consideration.                                                                                                          
                SB  30-RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY                                                                            
10:01:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced consideration of SB 30.                                                                            
SENATOR FRED  DYSON, sponsor  of SB  30, said  the bill  is about                                                               
restorative justice.  Last year an  identical bill, SB  297, made                                                               
it through the Judiciary Committee but  no further. He said SB 30                                                               
is designed to further enhance  the process of returning property                                                               
to  victims whose  property  has been  seized as  a  result of  a                                                               
crime.  In  AS  12.36.020,  the   legislature  added  a  separate                                                               
paragraph  stating  that if  commercial  fishing  nets have  been                                                               
stolen,  those need  to be  returned right  away. He  knows of  a                                                               
custom boat  builder who  was building a  $300,000 boat,  and one                                                               
night $40,000  worth of electronics disappeared.  The builder got                                                               
about two-thirds back through  visiting pawnshops and Craigslist,                                                               
but  the police  took it  as evidence  and he  had to  repurchase                                                               
$40,000 worth  of gear.  To avoid this  situation, he  said, some                                                               
people  don't  report  the  theft  of  equipment;  instead,  they                                                               
repossess it themselves.                                                                                                        
10:05:19 AM                                                                                                                   
CHUCK  KOPP,  Staff to  Senator  Fred  Dyson,  said SB  30  gives                                                               
property owners the right to request  a hearing for the return of                                                               
their property  from police custody,  and also requires  that the                                                               
hearing request  be submitted to  the court. The court  may order                                                               
return of the  property upon satisfactory proof  of ownership. As                                                               
the law  changes, the agency could  be in a position  to show the                                                               
court  that they  can or  cannot have  the property  returned. He                                                               
further  explained  that SB  30  provides  the court  may  impose                                                               
reasonable  conditions on  an owner  reclaiming property.  Police                                                               
are often cast in the role  of advocates for business owners, and                                                               
would like to  return property to the owner as  soon as possible,                                                               
but the  defense may  resist for various  reasons. The  court may                                                               
say you  can use  the property,  but not lease  or sell  it. This                                                               
right of  hearing for property  owners is not  currently provided                                                               
in law, which  imposes a heavy burden on victims.  Mr. Kopp added                                                               
that SB 30 is supported  by the Alaska Peace Officers Association                                                               
and the Office  of Victims Rights, and that the  intent is not to                                                               
jeopardize prosecutions, but  to make sure that  evidence is only                                                               
held as long as absolutely necessary.                                                                                           
10:10:28 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI brought  up  the case  in  the Mat-Su  Valley                                                               
where dogs  were seized and  are currently in custody,  and asked                                                               
if the owner in that case could request return of the dogs.                                                                     
MR.  KOPP responded  that under  SB 30,  the owner  could request                                                               
return of  the dogs, but he  did not believe a  judge would allow                                                               
them  to be  returned. In  that  case, the  judge would  probably                                                               
calendar a hearing after the trial date.                                                                                        
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked  what would be the standard  for a judge                                                               
analyzing cases.                                                                                                                
MR. KOPP  replied that  the court  often makes  determinations by                                                               
talking to  both counsel and  looking at the weight  of evidence;                                                               
nothing  in  SB 30  prevents  the  court from  making  individual                                                               
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI noted  that  currently a  person  can file  a                                                               
civil lawsuit  requesting return of  property, and asked  what SB                                                               
30 changes.                                                                                                                     
MR.  KOPP  said an  owner  may  request  return of  his  property                                                               
without filing  a lawsuit,  and the  court may  impose reasonable                                                               
conditions on an order claiming property under this section.                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked what agency would be involved.                                                                         
MR.  KOPP  answered  any  agency which  is  responsible  for  the                                                               
enforcement  or  the  prosecution  of  the  law,  such  as  state                                                               
troopers or municipal police, and the Department of Law.                                                                        
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if the DOL  would be required to  go to                                                               
MR. KOPP  explained that the  DOL would  be required to  file the                                                               
request for  a hearing, and  court could calendar the  hearing at                                                               
its discretion.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked why  SB 30  has an  undetermined fiscal                                                               
10:15:48 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  KOPP  replied  that  the  fiscal  note  is  undetermined  at                                                               
present,  because the  Department of  Law doesn't  know how  many                                                               
people will request hearings; however,  they do not expect a rush                                                               
of hearing requests.                                                                                                            
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI opened public testimony.                                                                                     
VICTOR  KESTER,  Executive  Director, Office  of  Victims  Rights                                                               
(OVR), testified  in support  of SB  30. The  OVR believes  SB 30                                                               
provides  an important  mechanism  for  property owners,  because                                                               
often property  crime victims  have to wait  months if  not years                                                               
for  return of  their property.  SB 30  would allow  a victim  to                                                               
request  a  hearing before  a  judge,  and  work with  others  to                                                               
determine the  best interests of  justice. Mr. Kester  noted that                                                               
the OVR  believes in  the principle  of restorative  justice, and                                                               
said that  SB 30  appropriately balances  the interests  of those                                                               
10:19:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if anyone  was present from  the Alaska                                                               
State Troopers or the Court System.                                                                                             
RODNEY  DIAL, Lieutenant,  Alaska State  Troopers, Department  of                                                               
Public Safety  (DPS), said  the DPS is  officially neutral  on SB                                                               
30,  and that  the standard  practice  is to  return property  as                                                               
quickly  as possible.  Sometimes  ownership is  contested, so  in                                                               
that case a court hearing would  be good thing. He has supervised                                                               
evidence facilities and  can't think of a case  where someone has                                                               
needed property  back immediately  and did  not receive  it; they                                                               
always  try  to   find  means  to  make  that   happen,  such  as                                                               
photographing property.                                                                                                         
CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI  asked   how  many   cases  involve   taking                                                               
possession of evidence.                                                                                                         
LIEUTENANT DIAL replied that most  cases result in evidence being                                                               
taken in  some manner;  maybe 10,000  cases per  year, statewide,                                                               
result  in property  being seized  and put  into facilities.  The                                                               
goal is always to get the  property returned as soon as possible.                                                               
In  some  cases, the  property  is  forfeited  to the  state,  or                                                               
destroyed because  it is  contraband. He  further stated  that he                                                               
has supervised  evidence facilities  in Southeast Alaska  for six                                                               
years,  and can't  remember  a  case where  he  was  not able  to                                                               
quickly get critical equipment or property returned to an owner.                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  stated one  concern  is  that, if  you  have                                                               
10,000 cases  where evidence is  seized, and if even  ten percent                                                               
of people ask  for hearings, there is potential  for thousands of                                                               
cases going to court.                                                                                                           
LIEUTENANT DIAL said  the request would probably  go through him,                                                               
as a facilities manager, and  he would probably call the district                                                               
attorney to  resolve the problem;  if SB  30 passed, he  would do                                                               
the same  thing, and the DA's  office would have to  determine if                                                               
it wanted to  request a hearing or return the  evidence. He would                                                               
not expect  the request for  a court hearing  to be made  in most                                                               
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked what  kind  of  evidence is  typically                                                               
LIEUTENANT  DIAL  answered that  the  vast  majority is  physical                                                               
evidence,  such as  recordings and  photos. In  a property  crime                                                               
they  would seize  stolen property  that they  recover. If  it is                                                               
stolen property, they would prefer  to retain the item for trial,                                                               
and most people agree.                                                                                                          
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if he  was aware of cases  where people                                                               
were forced to file a civil suit.                                                                                               
LIEUTENANT DIAL replied that in 20 years he has not seen that.                                                                  
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI   asked  if  it   was  a  problem   in  other                                                               
LIEUTENANT DIAL  said he has  been stationed at  every geographic                                                               
location in  the state and  has not  seen a problem,  because the                                                               
policy is always to return evidence as soon as possible.                                                                        
10:27:44 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GIESSEL asked him to define "as soon as possible."                                                                      
LIEUTENANT  DIAL  said  the  idea   is  to  return  the  property                                                               
immediately. There  are cases where  it's possible  to photograph                                                               
the property on  scene and return it right away;  in more complex                                                               
cases, such as felony cases, it can be a matter of days.                                                                        
10:28:46 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced he would hold SB 30 for further                                                                    
10:29:09 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Wielechowski adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                  
Committee meeting at 10:29 a.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 7 Sponsor Statement Rev. 1-26-2011.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 Supporting Document - ACLU Model Testimony.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 Supporting Document - NCSL Legisbrief - Felon Voting Rights.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 Supporting Document -The Sentencing Project - US Senate.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 Sectional Summary 27-LS0083A.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 30 Fiscal Note (Law).pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 30 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/13/2012 1:00:00 PM
SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 7 Fiscal Note (DOE).pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 30 Sectional Analysis.pdf HJUD 2/13/2012 1:00:00 PM
SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 30 Senator Dyson Notes.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 30 Supporting Document - APOA.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 30 Supporting Document - Office of Victim's Rights.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Return of Seized Property
SB 30
SB 7 Statement Support ACLU 2011 02 02.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 Corrections Dept Processing Felons.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
Felons' Right to Vote or Be Jurors
SB 7
SB 7 NAACP Ltr of Support 2-3-2011.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
SB 7
SB 7 Supporting Document - NCSL State Survey Permanent Disenfranchisment Feb 2011.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
SB 7
SB 7 Supporting Document - NCSL State Survey of Voting Rights Feb 2011.pdf SSTA 2/3/2011 9:00:00 AM
SB 7