Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1997-01-30 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1997-01-30                     Senate Journal                      Page 0172
SB 69                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 69 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                               
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                          
An Act relating to juvenile delinquency proceedings                           
and to the disclosure and confidentiality of juvenile                          
records and information; providing for the dual                                
sentencing of minors who commit certain felony                                 
offenses; relating to violations of municipal                                  
ordinances by minors and to civil penalties for                                
violation of municipal ordinances by minors; relating                          
to an amendment to the Interstate Compact on                                   
Juveniles; amending Delinquency Rules 3, 21, and                               
27; and providing for an effective date.                                       
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education and              
Social Services, Judiciary and Finance Committees.                             

1997-01-30                     Senate Journal                      Page 0173
SB 69                                                                        
Fiscal notes published today from Department of Health and Social              
Services (8), Department of Corrections.  Indeterminate fiscal notes           
published today from Department of Administration (2).  Zero fiscal            
notes published today from Department of Law, Department of                    
Public Safety.                                                                 
Governors transmittal letter dated January 30:                                 
Dear President Miller:                                                         
Alaskans deserve safe, healthy communities where our children and              
families can live, work and learn without fear of violence.  Yet there         
is a growing concern in our communities that violence among our                
youth is on a steady increase.  We must do all we can to curb this             
trend and to turn our youngsters away from a life of crime.  To that           
end, last year I appointed a group of more than 80 people of wide              
expertise to a Conference on Youth and Justice.  Today I am pleased            
to introduce to the legislature four measures that stem from the               
recommendations of that Conference.                                            
This action package was prepared by my Childrens Cabinet after                 
carefully studying the 500-page report of the Conference and its               
more than 100 recommendations.  The package includes legislation               
in the following areas:                                                        
	 Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings: to address how juveniles                   
are treated within the justice system, including confidentiality rules         
and sentencing options.                                                        
	 Healthy Families: a program providing education and                          
support services to pregnant women and the families of newborn                 
infants.  The aim is to prevent child abuse and neglect because many           
young victims grow up to become offenders.                                     
	 Alcohol Offenses: a program to ensure minors who have                        
lost their drivers licenses for alcohol-related offenses are complying         
with education and treatment programs before getting their licenses            

1997-01-30                     Senate Journal                      Page 0174
SB 69                                                                        
	 Foster Care: a restructure of the states foster care review                  
panels to expand them statewide.                                               
The attached bill relates to the juvenile delinquency proceedings and          
is described in further detail below.  The other three bills introduced        
today are described in separate transmittal letters.                           
Section 5 of this juvenile delinquency proceedings bill sets out a             
new philosophy for the state in responding to juvenile offenders.              
The Conference members urged us to rewrite this section of our                 
statutes, to promote a balanced juvenile justice system in the state           
to protect the community, impose accountability for violations of              
law, and equip juvenile offenders with the skills needed to live               
responsibly and productively.  The bill lists 14 purposes for the              
chapter, which may be useful in guiding the court and parties to               
legal actions in the proper interpretation of the delinquency chapter.         
I urge the legislature  to keep in mind this overall purpose when              
deliberating changes to our juvenile justice system.                           
Among the provisions of this bill is one allowing communities to               
handle minor juvenile offenses through programs such as youth                  
courts.  This is perhaps the single most important step the state can          
take to get the message out that there will be consequences for all            
juvenile offenses.  The state does not have the resources for swift            
and consistent action on all juvenile offenses.  Communities want the          
tools to respond to minor offenses and this bill will help create them.        
This bill also opens up the confidentiality laws for certain, more             
serious juvenile offenders who are 16 or older.  This provision is             
crafted with an effort to balance the traditional and well-founded             
need to protect a juveniles privacy so that bad youthful decisions             
wont haunt the child for life, with the publics right to know about            
serious juvenile offenders.                                                    
Also included in this bill is the establishment of a dual sentencing           
system for the state whereby certain juveniles can be given both a             
juvenile and an adult sentence.  This is aimed at preventing juvenile          
offenders from becoming serious, chronic offenders and would affect            
only  the  small  percentage  of  juveniles  in   this  risk  category.        

1997-01-30                     Senate Journal                      Page 0175
SB 69                                                                        
Imposing a juvenile disposition for the offense and, at the same time,         
pronouncing an adult sentence, places responsibility for the juveniles         
future in the youths own hands.  If the juvenile offender stays out            
of trouble and obeys all court-ordered conditions, the adult dual              
sentence is never imposed.  If, however, the offender commits a new            
crime or violates any court orders, he or she faces the adult                  
sentence, including incarceration in state prison.                             
Finally, the bill makes some minor changes clarifying that courts              
may order juvenile delinquents to perform community work service               
and authorizing municipalities to impose civil penalties against               
juveniles who violate municipal ordinances.  This bill also enacts an          
amendment to the Interstate Compact on Juveniles to clarify Alaska             
will cooperate with the Compact in the area of returning delinquent            
or runaway juveniles to other states.  Alaska adopted the Interstate           
Compact on Juveniles in 1960 but, through an apparent oversight,               
did not adopt this subsequent amendment to the Compact.  While the             
Conference did not discuss this provision, it is consistent with the           
Conference recommendations to improve our juvenile justice system.             
My youth justice package of initiatives, taken as a whole, reflects a          
balance between dealing with current juvenile offenders and                    
preventing future offenders.  Funding for the package must also                
reflect this balance.  In addition to helping our communities handle           
current offenders, we must invest money in prevention efforts.  To             
that end, the legislative package includes fiscal notes listing about          
$1.8 million in expenses and more than $1 million in revenues to               
properly implement some of these proposals.                                    
In addition, funding for this legislative package, including other             
needed programs which the Conference recommended, is included in               
my proposed operating budget.  Specifically:                                   
	 $300,000 in additional funds for Head Start                                  
	 $614,000 for the Healthy Families Program                                    
 $107,000 for Partnership 2000 (community involvement in                      
	 $250,000 for the National Guard Youth Corps program                          
	 $50,000 for inhalant abuse prevention                                        

1997-01-30                     Senate Journal                      Page 0176
SB 69                                                                        
	 $398,000 for additional juvenile probation officers                          
	 $410,000 for community grants for diversion programs                         
I will also be addressing items related to youth crime and the                 
juvenile justice system in my capital budget which I will present in           
the near future.  It will include funding to expand the Johnson Youth          
Center in Juneau to relieve serious overcrowding in our youth                  
facilities in Anchorage and Bethel as well as Juneau.                          
The Conference on Youth and Justice has done Alaskans a great                  
service in its year-long effort to produce a comprehensive plan for            
increasing public safety and decreasing juvenile crime.  As stated in          
the Conference report, These are important public goals . . . They             
will require the involvement, commitment, and cooperation of the               
Alaska Legislature to ensure that required statutory changes are               
enacted.  I am asking you now for that involvement, commitment,                
and cooperation.                                                               
						Tony Knowles