Legislature(2019 - 2020)

2019-02-20 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2019-02-20                     House Journal                      Page 0172
HB 51                                                                                                                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 51 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                    
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to probation; relating to a program allowing                                                              
     probationers to earn credits for complying with the conditions of                                                          
     probation; relating to early termination of probation; relating to                                                         
     parole; relating to a program allowing parolees to earn credits for                                                        
     complying with the conditions of parole; relating to early                                                                 
     termination of parole; relating to eligibility for discretionary                                                           
     parole; relating to good time; and providing for an effective date."                                                       

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was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Judiciary, and                                                       
Finance Committees.                                                                                                             
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                                                          
2.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                         
3.  Fiscal, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                                
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 22 follows:                                                                     
"Dear Chief Clerk:                                                                                                              
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill repealing provisions of SB 91                                                            
that deal with the sentencing caps on technical violations of probation                                                         
and parole, repealing statutory early termination of probation and                                                              
parole, reducing earned compliance credits, amending discretionary                                                              
parole eligibility, and repealing good time credit for time spent on                                                            
electronic monitoring.                                                                                                          
This bill will repeal the sentencing caps on technical violations of                                                            
probation. Current law defines a "technical violation" as a violation                                                           
that is not absconding or a new law violation. Currently, a person may                                                          
only be sentenced to up to three days on the first violation, five days                                                         
on the second violation, and ten days on the third violation. On the                                                            
fourth violation, the person may be sentenced to the remainder of the                                                           
time left on their sentence. A similar provision of law exists for                                                              
parolees as well. These caps are an ineffective deterrent and take away                                                         
the judge's discretion to factor in the nature of the violation(s) and the                                                      
underlying offense for which the person was placed on probation.                                                                
Repealing these caps will restore the court's ability to tailor an                                                              
appropriate sanction for each probationer taking into consideration the                                                         
underlying offense, the risk to the community, the rehabilitative needs                                                         
of the probationer, and the nature of the violation(s).                                                                         
The bill repeals the statutory timelines for early termination of                                                               
probation and parole. Under SB 91, a probation officer is required to                                                           
recommend that the court terminate a person's probation after 18                                                                

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months if the person has completed all of their programming, has had                                                            
no violations for those 18 months, and is currently in compliance with                                                          
their probation. There are similar provisions in law for parole officers                                                        
making early termination recommendations to the parole board. Prior                                                             
to January 1, 2017, probation officers made early termination                                                                   
recommendations to the court when they felt it was appropriate and                                                              
not based on any timelines in statute. Before SB 91, there was nothing                                                          
in statute guaranteeing early termination.This bill will repeal these                                                           
timelines and give a probation or parole officer the discretion to make                                                         
such a recommendation when the officer believes it is appropriate.                                                              
The bill also returns discretionary parole eligibility and release factors                                                      
to what they were prior to SB 91. SB 91 expanded discretionary parole                                                           
to offenders who previously were ineligible. It also created a                                                                  
presumption of release on discretionary parole for those who were                                                               
eligible. Returning discretion back to the parole board who has                                                                 
intimate knowledge of an offender's history and their recent and past                                                           
behavior will help to protect the public and ensure that those who are                                                          
released on discretionary parole are appropriate for release.                                                                   
The bill reduces the credit a person may earn for not violating their                                                           
probation or parole. Under the current structure, a person may receive                                                          
30 days for every 30 days without a probation or parole violation. This                                                         
could reduce a person's period on probation or parole by half. Such a                                                           
significant reduction in supervision reduces the rehabilitative                                                                 
assistance probation and parole can provide to a person. The bill will                                                          
amend the credit to be one day for every three days without a violation                                                         
providing an appropriate incentive and reward for complying with a                                                              
person's conditions of probation or parole.                                                                                     
Finally, the bill eliminates good time credit for time spent on                                                                 
electronic monitoring. Prior to the passage of SB 91, a person was able                                                         
to earn day-to-day credit for time spent on electronic monitoring. The                                                          
concept of good time is to incentivize prisoners to comply with the                                                             
rules of a prison institution. Eliminating good time credit for time                                                            
spent on electronic monitoring restores the balance between                                                                     
incentivizing good behavior while in a prison institution and enjoying                                                          
certain freedoms while on electronic monitoring.                                                                                

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I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Michael J. Dunleavy