Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/24/1993 03:00 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 105:  BOOT CAMP FOR NONVIOLENT FIRST OFFENDERS                            
  Number 562                                                                   
  REP. ED WILLIS spoke as PRIME SPONSOR of HB 105, saying it                   
  would both help teach young offenders respect for the law                    
  and give them a second chance, where a jail term might do                    
  them more harm than good.  He read a sponsor statement,                      
  which is on file in the committee room.  He said the bill                    
  was aimed at nonviolent first offenders and at least 24                      
  states now offer such programs, with various conditions and                  
  age limits.                                                                  
  TAPE 93-45, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  REP. WILLIS said the program could help reduce overcrowding                  
  and recidivism.  He said the bill would limit participation                  
  to those under 26 years of age and charged with their first                  
  felony; involve military-style discipline and physical                       
  training, counseling and training; would last for less than                  
  150 days; would refer graduates to sentencing court for                      
  probation; would refer those who failed to complete the                      
  program to other correctional institutions; and would                        
  require the commissioner to report on the program's success                  
  or failure to the legislature.                                               
  Number 052                                                                   
  (Chair Toohey noted that Lloyd Rupp, Commissioner of the                     
  Department of Corrections, had arrived.)                                     
  REP. CON BUNDE, a CO-SPONSOR of HB 105, spoke in support of                  
  HB 105.  He asked where the state would find boot camp                       
  instructors with the proper training and talents to perform                  
  the job well.                                                                
  Number 072                                                                   
  REP. BRICE jokingly asked if Rep. Bunde were volunteering                    
  for the job.                                                                 
  REP. WILLIS deferred on the question to Commissioner Rupp.                   
  He added that some states send prospective boot camp drill                   
  instructors (DIs) to U.S. Marine Corps training centers.                     
  Number 092                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked whether the zero fiscal note was accurate.                  
  REP. WILLIS said he believed it was, but deferred to the                     
  commissioner as a better authority.                                          
  Number 110                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked rhetorically whether the costs of having                  
  youthful offenders in boot camps might not be offset by                      
  avoiding the costs of placing them in adult prisons.                         
  Number 120                                                                   
  testified in Juneau in favor of HB 105.  He said he was                      
  familiar with the concept of boot camps, but said that early                 
  boot camps erred by placing instructors in difficult                         
  situations without adequate training.  He spoke in favor of                  
  good training for such instructors so they could impart the                  
  lessons of military discipline, including personal                           
  discipline, accountability and responsibility.  He referred                  
  to decaying state-owned agricultural properties at Point                     
  MacKenzie, across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, and said the                    
  department anticipated starting July 1 to halt the                           
  deterioration by use of heavy equipment.  He asked if the                    
  program could be expanded to cover first-time misdemeanants,                 
  as there were not enough first-time youthful felons to make                  
  the program work well.  He asked for language in the bill                    
  that would have the boot camps stress personal                               
  accountability and responsibility, as well as a strong work                  
  ethic.  He also said that, lacking a management information                  
  system, the Department of Corrections could not provide an                   
  annual report comparing the recidivism rates for boot camp                   
  inmates and other prisoners.                                                 
  Number 195                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY expressed support for the concept of boot                       
  camps, but asked if it could be done at less cost than                       
  indicated on the fiscal note by transferring such prisoners                  
  out of Alaska for treatment.                                                 
  COMMISSIONER RUPP said his department viewed the daily cost                  
  of boot camp treatment as low, compared to the $118 per day                  
  cost for incarceration in a prison.  He noted that the                       
  state's prisons were filling to 104 percent of capacity and                  
  it was important to do something to reduce prison occupancy.                 
  He said the department has contracted out community                          
  residential centers (CRCs).  He said few states send                         
  prisoners out-of-state for shock incarceration or boot camps                 
  because of the special requirements and liabilities.  He                     
  said he would like to start the program on a small scale,                    
  then build it up if successful.  He said the daily cost of                   
  boot camps of about $36 would be less than the $50 daily                     
  cost for CRCs.  He said the boot camp program would cost                     
  about $1.3 million in operating costs, most of which would                   
  go for personnel and substance abuse programs, which he said                 
  was an essential part of successful programs.  Such                          
  substance abuse counseling would be contracted from Outside                  
  firms, he said.  The state departments of Labor and                          
  Education would also help boot camp inmates learn to deal                    
  with the problem of alcoholism and the challenge of                          
  employment.  He said providing sobriety, marketability and                   
  support to inmates would help the inmates out of the state                   
  corrections system.                                                          
  Number 257                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked a clarifying question as to where Point                  
  MacKenzie was located.                                                       
  COMMISSIONER RUPP said it was located across Cook Inlet from                 
  Anchorage.  He described the large dairy farms and the barns                 
  and farm buildings which were in disrepair.                                  
  Number 287                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE asked what "prison gratuities" were.                              
  COMMISSIONER RUPP answered that the gratuities referred to                   
  "gate money" given to prisoners upon their release.  He also                 
  noted that a Department of Education year-long training                      
  program was available to provide youths with job skills, and                 
  the program might be applied to the boot camp program.                       
  Number 312                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY referred to the fiscal note and asked whether it                  
  assumed 12,500 participants in the boot camp program.  He                    
  asked whether the inmates would otherwise be incarcerated.                   
  COMMISSIONER RUPP responded that boot camp inmates would                     
  otherwise have been housed in adult prisons at a cost of                     
  about $100 per day.                                                          
  REP. VEZEY said he would like to see figures demonstrating                   
  the savings of the boot camp program.                                        
  Number 338                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER RUPP noted that the boot camp program would not                 
  include capital expenditures, as the inmates would be housed                 
  in relocatable modular buildings.  He noted that prison                      
  cells cost about $110,000 to build the first new prison                      
  cell, plus the cost of operation.  He noted that the aim of                  
  the boot camp program was to prevent youths from committing                  
  future crimes, not just incarcerating them as punishment.                    
  Number 352                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE asked Rep. Willis' reaction to the amendments                     
  proposed by Commissioner Rupp.                                               
  REP. WILLIS said he was open to any changes to improve his                   
  REP. BUNDE asked whether it was possible to reduce the                       
  travel budget expenses for the boot camp advisory board                      
  called for in HB 105.                                                        
  Number 366                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER RUPP said the figure of $14,400 for travel                      
  expenses was a rough estimate, but he could reexamine the                    
  Number 382                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE asked Rep. Willis to return to the committee with                 
  answers to his questions and those of Rep. Vezey, and with                   
  responses to Commissioner Rupp's proposed amendments, so                     
  that the committee could consider moving the bill out of                     
  Number 390                                                                   
  REP. NICHOLIA offered a friendly amendment to allow Native                   
  corporations to contract with the state Department of                        
  Corrections to operate boot camps, as about 47 percent of                    
  prisoners in Alaska state prisons were Alaska Natives.  She                  
  said the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) supported such an                    
  amendment and she read a letter from the TCC indicating that                 
  support.  She read the amendment to HB 105, numbered as                      
  8-LSO467\A.1, dated 3/24/93.                                                 
  Number 415                                                                   
  REP. WILLIS said he did not object to the amendment.                         
  REP. BUNDE said he appreciated privatization and it might be                 
  worthwhile to have HB 105 returned to the committee with                     
  Rep. Nicholia's amendment included.                                          
  Number 426                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER RUPP said he would welcome such an amendment,                   
  and said the department had hoped to find ways to spread the                 
  program out across the state, and in rural areas in                          
  REP. VEZEY objected to the motion.  He said it would be                      
  better to allow for-profit corporations to contract out boot                 
  camp programs, as they would be more motivated than                          
  nonprofits to operate such camps efficiently.                                
  Number 440                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked Commissioner Rupp, Rep. Vezey and Rep.                    
  Nicholia to work on the bill and return to the full                          
  committee with the amendments.  She said HB 105 would be                     
  placed on the committee's schedule as soon as possible to                    
  consider the amendments.  She then ADJOURNED the meeting at                  
  5:10 p.m.                                                                    

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