Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1997-01-28 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1997-01-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 0148
SB 66                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 66 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                               
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                          
An Act relating to the collection by victims of                               
restitution from prisoners; relating to the definition                         
of 'serious provocation' as a defense to murder;                               
relating to the definition of 'incapacitated' for sexual                       
offenses; creating the crime of interfering with a                             
report of a crime involving domestic violence;                                 
relating to the safety of victims, other persons, and                          
the community in setting bail or conditions of                                 
release; relating to mental examinations of victims                            
in criminal prosecutions; relating to the rights of                            
victims of crimes under AS 12.61; relating to access                           
to certain records of the Violent Crimes                                       
Compensation Board; relating to medical death                                  
investigations; amending Alaska Rules of Criminal                              
Procedure 5 and 6, Alaska Rules of Evidence 404                                
and 615, and Alaska Delinquency Rule 3; and                                    
providing for an effective date.                                               
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education and              
Social Services and Judiciary Committees.                                      

1997-01-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 0149
SB 66                                                                        
Zero fiscal notes published today from Department of Health and                
Social Services, Department of Public Safety and Department of                 
Law.  Fiscal note published today from Department of Corrections.              
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 27:                                
Dear President Miller:                                                         
In a civilized society, people who are criminally wronged by others            
do not seek personal retribution; rather, society seeks justice on             
behalf of the victim.  There have been instances, however, when our            
efforts to insure a fair trial for defendants have caused us to ignore         
or overlook the rights of victims.  In response, the people of Alaska          
ratified in 1994 the Rights of Crime Victims amendment to our state            
Constitution as art. I, sec. 24. This bill I transmit to you today will        
implement the victims rights amendment through substantive and                 
procedural changes to our law.                                                 
The bill guarantees a victim has the right to be present at every              
proceeding during a criminal prosecution or delinquency adjudication           
in which the defendant or minor has the right to be present.                   
Although the constitution explicitly provides this right, victims in our       
state are still occasionally excluded from hearings.  This exclusion           
can be very difficult for victims, particularly those who have lost            
family members as a result of the crime.                                       
The constitutional amendment provides that victims have the right to           
be reasonably protected from a defendant through bail requirements             
or conditions of release prior to the defendants trial.  In the spirit         
of that provision, this bill requires the court to consider the safety of      
the victim when setting bail and imposing conditions of release.               
The bill also closes up certain loopholes in the law that allow the            
crime of murder to be reduced to manslaughter.  Its clear these                
loopholes were an unintended result of a 1980 change in the law.               
In addition, provisions in this legislation will make it easier for            
victims to collect restitution from prisoners.                                 

1997-01-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 0150
SB 66                                                                        
I also feel it is important to address in this bill an unfortunate             
situation that arose from the recent tragic murder of Alaska State             
Trooper Bruce Heck while on duty.  A successful defense request for            
a subsequent autopsy on Trooper Heck delayed his familys plans for             
cremation.  This caused needless suffering for a family already                
stricken with grief.  A provision in this bill will tighten the                
parameters for allowing subsequent autopsies, in the hope of                   
shielding other families from this unnecessary pain.                           
Finally, the bill continues the effort I began last year in my                 
legislation to fight domestic violence by making it a class A                  
misdemeanor to interfere with a person who is attempting to report             
a domestic violence offense to the police.                                     
The people of Alaska told us in 1994 they want victims rights                  
clearly protected in the state Constitution.  This bill will put that          
public sentiment into practice.                                                
						Tony Knowles