Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/23/1995 03:05 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HHES - 02/23/95                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG noticed that HB 15, which was                  
 recently heard and passed out of the House HESS Committee, was very           
 similar to HB 104.  Representative Rokeberg said the differences              
 appear to lie in the methodologies.  He asked if Representative               
 Kott or any of his staff was familiar with HB 15, and if they could           
 enumerate the differences between HB 104, HB 15, and HB 125.                  
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he was not familiar with the contents of             
 HB 15.                                                                        
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked for the name of HB 15.                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG read the name of HB 15:  "An Act                      
 authorizing the disclosure for the court records of the name,                 
 address and picture of, and other information about certain minors            
 for whom a delinquency petition is filed."  Representative Rokeberg           
 noted that he was co-sponsor of HB 15, and Representative Gene                
 Therriault is the sponsor.  He noted that HB 15 and HB 104 are very           
 Number 2068                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY recalled that with HB 15, the problem lay in                  
 exactly the same area -- the legality of what would occur if the              
 information was released, and where public funding would be lost.             
 She called for information on this issue.                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON said that there are three bills that            
 are very similar, HB 15, HB 104 and HB 125.  In some ways, it is a            
 shame that HB 15 has been moved already and not kept for a                    
 subcommittee in which all three bills could be studied.  In                   
 addition, Representative Robinson asked how all three bills fit               
 with Senate Bill 54 concerning the juvenile waiver.  This was                 
 passed last year.  Representative Robinson understands that the               
 departments are moving to get their regulations in line so they can           
 begin revealing this information to the school districts.  It is              
 very obvious from communication with school districts that many               
 districts don't realize what is about to occur.                               
 Number 2133                                                                   
 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, General Counsel to the Judicial Branch of the              
 state of Alaska, said that as a matter of policy, the Supreme Court           
 takes no position on any pieces of legislation that do not directly           
 affect the internal administration of the Judicial Branch.  The               
 courts believe that bills such as HB 104, that do not affect their            
 internal administration, are bills which the constitution leaves to           
 the policy judgement of the legislature and it would be                       
 inappropriate for the court to comment.                                       
 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that however, the courts do provide its             
 best estimate of what a particular piece of legislation might cost            
 the court system, as well as point out technical problems and                 
 perhaps make suggestions which could reduce the cost of a bill.               
 Number 2165                                                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN also noted there are a number of bills that have              
 been introduced this year that relate to the release of juvenile              
 records.  The first one the HESS Committee heard was HB 15, and HBs           
 104 and 125 are before the committee today.                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN asked to discuss the basic problems that exist with           
 the court system's juvenile records, as well as to speak on how               
 those problems tie in with this legislation.  Most of the bills, as           
 they were introduced, put the duty on the court system to release             
 its records as opposed to putting the duty on the Division of                 
 Family and Youth Services (DFYS) to release its records.  The one             
 exception was the original version of HB 104.  As introduced, that            
 would have the DFYS release its records to the public.                        
 Number 2192                                                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that a short time ago, a sponsor substitute              
 for HB 104 was released that shifted the responsibility to the                
 courts.  Mr. Christensen spoke with the staff of the bill's prime             
 sponsor to ask why this was done.  He assumed it was done because             
 there has been a great deal of discussion around the legislature in           
 the last few weeks as to whether or not the DFYS can actually                 
 perform this function.                                                        
 MR. CHRISTENSEN was advised that the burden was shifted to the                
 courts because it was assumed that the court records were far more            
 complete and would give the public more information.  He said that            
 unlike the DFYS, which has a statewide, computerized juvenile                 
 records system, court records are all paper files.  They are not              
 computerized, and there is no statewide repository or statewide               
 index.  If a person asks for information to be released from a                
 juvenile's records, as would be the case under HB 104, essentially,           
 instead of having a clerk punch a name into a computer, receiving             
 a printout and handing it to the inquirer, a range 8 counter clerk            
 would have to look through the index of names which is usually on             
 microfilm or on hard copy.  The court system cannot let a member of           
 the public look through the index because most of the names in it             
 are secret.                                                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that the clerk would then have to find              
 and pull the file.  Next, since a range 8 would not be qualified to           
 determine what is in the file, the file would be given to a range             
 14 legal technician.  This technician leafs through the file, page            
 by page, trying to determine what the child had been convicted of             
 or adjudicated for, whether or not it met the parameters of the               
 legislation and whether or not the information could be released.             
 Information would then be put on a form and provided to the public.           
 Number 2260                                                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that obviously this is an involved process.              
 Many individuals have 2-inch thick files, unfortunately, which                
 would take a lot of time to look through.  The second problem is              
 that the court does not have a statewide records repository or                
 index.  The significance of that is if a person in Anchorage goes             
 into the courthouse and asks if his next door neighbor has a felony           
 record, the only thing the court can tell him is if the neighbor              
 was adjudicated delinquent of a felony in Anchorage.  There are 14            
 juvenile courts around the state.  If a person wanted to know if              
 the child had a record in the state, you would have to contact all            
 14 courts.                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN added that these are the underlying problems the              
 courts have with the juvenile records system.  The courts have                
 submitted a fiscal note which is based, in part, with the court's             
 experience with release of adult records and the court's experience           
 with the Victim's Rights Act.  This was passed about five years               
 MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that before the Victim's Rights Act,                
 adult records were completely open to the public.  However, this              
 Act required that certain parts of those records were to be made              
 secret.  Each year since that, the courts have had from $120,000 to           
 $150,000 in clerical overtime to implement that legislation.  This            
 overtime is unfunded.  No funding was received for that overtime              
 MR. CHRISTENSEN assured the HESS Committee members that therefore,            
 the court system is sensitive to the whole issue of making parts of           
 files open and parts secret.                                                  
 TAPE 95-10, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that based on statistics from DFYS it has been           
 determined there are roughly 250 juveniles each year that are                 
 actually adjudicated delinquent for a felony, aged 14 and above.              
 This is not very many children.  The problem is a member of the               
 public can come in and ask about any child.  Right now there are              
 about 38,000 juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 in Alaska.  Of           
 course, there are many more people aged 18-25 that members of the             
 public might be curious about.                                                
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the court must attempt to locate records            
 on any child, and if there is a record, leaf through it page by               
 Number 046                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that each year the court receives about 3,500            
 written requests statewide for adult criminal records.  The courts            
 will only accept a written request if the requestor does not live             
 in a community where the court is located.  However, in Anchorage             
 alone, approximately 75 people each day come in to look at adult              
 criminal files.  Those 75 people look at a total of about 500                 
 different criminal files every day.  Most of those people represent           
 credit agencies and employment services, which is why they are                
 requesting multiple files.  These numbers add up to about 100,000             
 requests to look at adult files every year statewide.                         
 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that with adult files, the people who do            
 the requesting do all the work.  They look into the index                     
 themselves, they tell the clerk the name.  A counter clerk walks              
 back, picks up the file, gives it to the person and the person                
 looks through the file.  The only time spent is the five minutes              
 for the retrieval and replacement of the file.                                
 Number 138                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that in the case of the juvenile records,                
 someone from the court system is going to have to leaf through                
 every file and separate what is disclosable and what is not.  The             
 court expects a substantial number of juvenile records to be                  
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that an employer who is hiring a 22-year-old             
 right out of college may customarily send someone to see if that              
 person had an adult record.  The potential employer may also want             
 to check if he or she had a juvenile record if that was an option.            
 It may be very significant if a potential employee was adjudicated            
 a delinquent for felony theft or sexual assault of a co-worker five           
 years earlier, when he or she was 17 years old.                               
 Number 190                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN expects people to look at juvenile records if that            
 is an option.  He expects the numbers will be very substantial.               
 There is one change that does not relate to this whole issue of               
 which agency is best suited to release information.  This change              
 could bring the cost downs dramatically.                                      
 MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that currently, HB 104 is drafted so that           
 it applies to any juvenile record the courts have, regardless of              
 how far back the crime goes.  If the bill were drafted so it only             
 applied to children who were convicted of felonies after the                  
 effective date of the Act, as each child was adjudicated a                    
 delinquent, a one-page form would be prepared that could be placed            
 on the front page of the file.  This form could be prepared either            
 by the DFYS or the courts.  There could also be a public index on             
 those 250 kids each year.                                                     
 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that the public could look through the              
 index and determine if a child was in there or not.  If the child             
 was in there, it would merely be a matter of pulling that one piece           
 of paper off the top of the file, photocopying it, and handing that           
 photocopy to the requestor.  The problem of having to leaf through            
 files page by page only arises in reference to files that are                 
 already in existence.                                                         
 Number 269                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN allowed that the big issue still remains of which             
 agency is allowed to release the information.  He has spoken with             
 the Deputy Commissioner of the Children's Bureau for the Department           
 of Health and Social Services in Washington, D.C.  He indicated               
 there would be an opinion from their general counsel in the next              
 week and a half.  The Deputy Commissioner would not tell what the             
 opinion was yet, however he indicated to Mr. Christensen that                 
 probably any state agency that received its information from the              
 DFYS would receive the same treatment regarding the release of                
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that all of the court's records are from DFYS.           
 The only knowledge the courts have on a juvenile is from DFYS.  It            
 is the understanding of Mr. Christensen that the opinion from the             
 Deputy Commissioner will be if DFYS cannot release the information,           
 the courts cannot release it either.  Mr. Christensen understands             
 that the reason the final opinion is taking so long is because the            
 research is being expanded.  There is a secondary question of                 
 whether or not the police agencies can release this information.              
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the police agencies do not get their                
 information from DFYS.  They generate it on their own.  That is the           
 additional issue being studied currently, resulting in delays.                
 Number 347                                                                    
 MR. CHRISTENSEN continued that one alternative from having either             
 DFYS or the courts release the juvenile records might be to place             
 just the names, addresses and the crime each of the 250 children              
 each year who are adjudicated delinquent for felony were convicted            
 of in the Alaska Public Safety Information Network, (APSIN), the              
 state's adult criminal computer.  Legislation was passed last year            
 which said as of July 1, 1995, APSIN is going to available to the             
 public, resulting in current criminal information being available             
 to the public.                                                                
 MR. CHRISTENSEN explained that putting the names, addresses and               
 crimes of the 250 juvenile delinquent names into the computer would           
 be a very inexpensive way for the public to access the information.           
 However, a problem may still exist in that the APSIN system must              
 get the juvenile information from either DFYS or the courts, so the           
 system may still not be able to release that information.  Mr.                
 Christensen said that more would be known in about a week's time,             
 and he would try to answer the questions of the HESS Committee                
 Number 410                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if it would simplify matters if the                
 juvenile restriction on releasing information and special                     
 considerations for juveniles was simply done away with.  Mr.                  
 Christensen asked for clarification, and if Representative Vezey              
 was suggesting making juvenile records public, just like adult                
 MR. CHRISTENSEN answered that if those special considerations were            
 removed, someone could ask for a record and a member of the court             
 system would hand it to them.   Although, there are public policy             
 implications present in that situation that the court system would            
 not address.  Those would be under the jurisdiction of another                
 Number 447                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked what the impact would be on the court              
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the courts would expect many requests for           
 records, just like it does for the adults.  However, currently the            
 problem lies in the fact that the courts have to do the research              
 for the public if the juvenile records are still sealed.  If the              
 records were open, a member of the court system could simply give             
 the file to the requestor, just like is done currently with adult             
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY understood from Mr. Christensen's testimony              
 that the criminal computer system is going to be open for public              
 use soon.  It appears that the courts are moving toward a system in           
 which the public does its own research.                                       
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the computer he referred to is the                  
 Department of Public Safety's computer, The Alaska Public Safety              
 Information Network.  This is the state's criminal records computer           
 for all adults.  Juveniles are not in the system currently.  The              
 computer system has been in existence for many years, but as of               
 July 1, the public will be able to access certain adult records in            
 that computer.                                                                
 Number 520                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the current burden on the court                 
 system will be reduced when APSIN is opened to public use.  He                
 asked if the burden would be reduced further if juveniles were                
 included in that system.                                                      
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that remains to be seen.  He suspects that               
 professionals, like the credit and employment agencies, will very             
 likely ask for information from the Department of Public Safety               
 rather than go through the court system.  They will receive a                 
 printout of what the person did.  If the agencies want copies of              
 the documents such as the charge or record of conviction, which               
 they often do, they will have to come to the court system to get              
 copies of those documents.                                                    
 Number 625                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that several more people were available to               
 testify, including Melinda Gruening from Representative Joe Green's           
 office.  Ms. Gruening offered to discuss similarities and                     
 differences between House Bills 15, 104 and 125.                              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that he would like to hear testimony and                  
 discuss HB 104 completely before hearing a comparison between the             
 three bills.  In that way, the HESS Committee members will have               
 more knowledge of what they are comparing.                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that the committee will not pass HB 104 out              
 today, because there will be other testimony.  It would be best to            
 wait the two weeks for the rest of the information from Washington,           
 Number 643                                                                    
 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to Department of Health and                
 Social Services Commissioner Karen Perdue, said the Department of             
 Law (DOL) will also be testifying.  The DOL has done research in              
 this issue as well as other bills on juvenile records.                        
 MR. LINDSTROM said there has been much discussion during this and             
 other hearings about what other states do in this area.  While Mr.            
 Lindstrom does not have a complete record of the other states'                
 activities, he does have some information about some states.                  
 MR. LINDSTROM said that during the hearing on HB 15, several states           
 were cited as providing open and essentially unlimited public                 
 access to juvenile records with no apparent impact on their federal           
 funds.  Those states were called.                                             
 Number 717                                                                    
 MR. LINDSTROM explained that the DHSS spoke to a person in                    
 Colorado's Juvenile Justice Planning Department.  In 1993, a                  
 special session of the legislature made several changes in the                
 disclosure statutes.  Legislation was also enacted to meet the                
 federal mandates regarding the Safe Schools Act, which requires               
 automatic expulsion for the possession of weapons.                            
 MR. LINDSTROM said a side effect of the legislation has resulted in           
 a 160 percent increase in expulsions in their schools.  This was              
 not anticipated, and now Colorado is scrambling to assemble some              
 sort of alternative schooling for those individuals.  To have these           
 expelled students not in school and not working has created some              
 new problems to be addressed.                                                 
 MR. LINDSTROM continued that in Kansas, the entire juvenile code is           
 under revision.  Currently, open inspection of court records is               
 available for any juvenile above 14 years of age.  Staff in                   
 Illinois advised that only court records of juveniles waived to               
 adult court could be opened to the public without court order.  In            
 Rhode Island, this same policy was enacted.                                   
 Number 809                                                                    
 MR. LINDSTROM provided general information on states with                     
 legislation concerning disclosure of juvenile records to school               
 districts.   The DHSS does not have details, however there are                
 certain states with statutes concerning that area, such as                    
 California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and a number of             
 MR. LINDSTROM also said that the DHSS believes there are 28 states            
 which release the name and/or picture of juveniles under certain              
 conditions.  He is sure those conditions vary widely.  Nineteen               
 states have no statutes whatsoever in this regard, and four states            
 by statute do not allow any publicity in this regard.                         
 MR. LINDSTROM said there is very little to report concerning fiscal           
 notes.  Currently, the fiscal notes prepared for HB 104 are                   
 identical to the fiscal notes prepared by the DHSS for HB 15.                 
 Those fiscal notes anticipate the loss of federal funds, based on             
 DHSS understanding from Region X.  The DHSS will revise those                 
 fiscal notes if they receive contrary information from the federal            
 agencies.  Mr. Lindstrom said he was not an expert in the DHSS                
 juvenile records system.  It is an automated system, but the                  
 information available does not go much farther back past 1990.                
 Number 917                                                                    
 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General with the Department of               
 Law, Criminal Division, said the release of juvenile information              
 was currently a problematic area.  There are four bills pending               
 which relate to the disclosure of information about juveniles.  Ms.           
 Knuth feels that the bills can be looked at as relating to two                
 different types of release of information.                                    
 MS. KNUTH said that HB 15 and part of HB 104 would like to create             
 a categorical release of information about juveniles who have                 
 either been adjudicated of a single felony or a second felony.  The           
 second area these bills are addressing is what information may be             
 released about these individuals on a case-by-case basis.  A year             
 ago in Alaska, the school districts expressed tremendous                      
 frustration because there was case-by-case information they were              
 unable to get about students attending their schools because law              
 enforcement agencies and the DHSS were saying it was not clear,               
 under existing state law, whether information could be released or            
 MS. KNUTH said that different interpretations of the law was taking           
 place around the state.  In some places, cooperation was prevalent.           
 In other places, the agencies flatly declined to release                      
 information on the fear that the agencies would incur liability.              
 Number 1025                                                                   
 MS. KNUTH continued that at the same time, there was a provision in           
 the statute that allowed the court to publish the name of a                   
 juvenile and the offense for any second felony and the                        
 adjudication.  That statute has been on the books for many years.             
 Juvenile waiver was a major theme last session.  There were a                 
 number of bills addressing this issue.  The executive branch took             
 advantage of the interest and the opportunity to put together a               
 comprehensive amendment regarding the disclosure of juvenile                  
 MS. KNUTH said that a task force met around the state for months.             
 About 25 people met each time, all concerned about clarifying the             
 law on the disclosure of juvenile records.  The task force came up            
 with legislation and asked the committees to append this                      
 legislation to the juvenile waiver bill that was passed.  For the             
 last five months, there has been a new and different law on the               
 disclosure of juvenile records.                                               
 MS. KNUTH added that one of the things that Senate Bill 54 did, was           
 it repealed the provision that allowed for the categorical release            
 of second adjudication information because of the jeopardy it                 
 brought to the Title IV federal funds.  At that point last year,              
 there did not seem to be any confusion in the federal system that,            
 in Alaska, categorical release of the identity of juveniles for               
 offenses did jeopardize the Title IV funds.                                   
 MS. KNUTH said this has to do with several things, one of which is            
 the fact that juveniles are handled out of the DHSS in Alaska,                
 rather than the Department of Corrections.  If all children were              
 passed to corrections, there would not be an intermingling of "help           
 the kids" and "punish the kids" programs.  It is the combination in           
 Alaska that has raised the concerns.                                          
 Number 1127                                                                   
 MS. KNUTH said that at this point, the federal government is                  
 revisiting the issue and they hope to have an answer within the               
 next week.  With respect to discretionary releases of information,            
 and making information available on a case-by-case, need to know              
 basis, Alaska is now as liberal as any state in the Union.  Alaska            
 gave the agency and law enforcement the explicit authority to make            
 disclosures.  The problem is that it has only been five months.               
 There are regulations being promulgated, however the process takes            
 time.  There has been a communication failure.                                
 MS. KNUTH explained that the system Senate Bill 54 brought last               
 year has not been tried yet.  Ms. Knuth thinks that all of the                
 agencies in the executive branch are sensitive to the issue and               
 want to cooperate in any way possible.  If there are gaps or                  
 problems in SB 54, the executive branch is flexible.  At this                 
 point, it seems there has been an initial education gap or failure,           
 and a lot of the school systems do not know that five months ago              
 the system changed.                                                           
 Number 1207                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY closed testimony on HB 104 and announced that the             
 bill was being held pending further information.  Representative              
 Rokeberg and Representative Davis left the meeting at 4:10 p.m.  A            
 quorum was still present.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if the intent of the committee was to           
 put all the bills into a subcommittee in an attempt to come up with           
 an overall ruling.                                                            
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that decision would be made shortly.  She                
 called for further testimony and clarification.                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked for clarification on the similarities and                
 differences between Hbs 15, 104 and 125.                                      
 HHES - 02/23/95                                                               
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he would like to hear a comparison between HB
 15, 104 and 125 from Ms. Gruening.  He also called for further                
 testimony on HB 125.                                                          
 MS. GRUENING said the differences are very confusing.  There are              
 four bills that relate to the disclosure of juvenile information.             
 There are Hbs 15, 104 and 125, and SB 29.  Senate Bill 29 and HB
 125 deal specifically with disclosure to school officials.  The               
 difference between HB 125 and SB 29 is that part of SB 29 is still            
 discretionary.  Part of the disclosure, the disclosure of law                 
 enforcement, is discretionary.  HB 125 stipulates for mandatory               
 disclosure on the part of law enforcement and the court system.               
 Those are the two that are specifically school disclosure bills.              
 Number 1635                                                                   
 MS. GRUENING continued that HB 104 is a general disclosure and a              
 school disclosure in one bill.  It is a public disclosure that                
 would take place through the court system, and also disclosure                
 would take place to school officials.  The portion of HB 104 that             
 relates to school disclosure, compared to HB 125 which calls for              
 school disclosure, is that HB 104 is partially mandatory to the               
 schools, and partially discretionary.  HB 125 is completely                   
 mandatory.  That is a comparison of only those two sections of Hbs            
 104 and 125.                                                                  
 MS. GRUENING explained that HB 15, which had been already heard and           
 passed out of the HESS Committee, is a general public disclosure.             
 It does not address school issues.  Ms. Gruening said she had                 
 research done on what other states are doing.  She offered to make            
 copies for the HESS Committee members as the bills were addressed.            
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY appreciated her offer and asked her for that                  
 Number 1712                                                                   
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that HB 125 causes the court system                      
 "substantially less heartburn."  This bill will not result in the             
 potential of tens of thousands of records requests every year.  He            
 estimates there might be 350 cases each year when the court system            
 has to send a document to a school official.  The costs associated            
 with this are relatively small.  As indicated previously, with the            
 Adult Victims' Rights Act, the court system is spending about                 
 $120,000 to $150,000 each year.                                               
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the reason the cost of HB 125 would be so           
 low is the court system has figured out a way to place 75 percent             
 of the burden on the attorney's in Alaska.  Mr. Christensen                   
 suggests that at the time of an adjudication by court rule, DFYS be           
 required to provide the courts with a document that states that               
 this is a qualifying crime and provides the name of the juvenile's            
 principal and the address of the school.  The court system will               
 simply drop that document into the mail.                                      
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that the middle man could be further                     
 eliminated by simply having DFYS drop the document into the mail.             
 Number 1761                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he is not sure why DFYS would have                  
 records that the court does not have.  He asked why a middle man is           
 used.  He wanted to know why disclosure wouldn't be required from             
 whoever originates the record.                                                
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that under his understanding, the reason HB
 125 was drafted the way it was is because people were assuming DFYS           
 could not release records, while the courts could do so.  However,            
 testimony has now been heard that suggests that the DFYS could                
 release such information to schools.  DFYS would have information             
 concerning the school principal's names.  The court system would              
 not know this information unless they asked DFYS.  All the                    
 information the court would have, it would get from DFYS and then             
 pass along.  If it is legally possible, it may be easier to have              
 DFYS release information and eliminate the court's role as a middle           
 man.  This is only if this would be legally possible.                         
 Number 1804                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why it would not be easiest to simply              
 have the police records available for public release, and not                 
 involve any bureaucracy.  If there is an arrest, there will be a              
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that it was his understanding that HB 125 is             
 requiring a copy of the court's adjudication order.  This is the              
 finding that the individual was guilty and had been adjudicated a             
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY thought the individual had to be charged of a            
 crime, when in fact the person must be adjudicated.                           
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said the records that the court is supposed to                
 provide is a copy of the adjudication order.  The court system                
 would generate that based on information from DFYS.  This order               
 would then be passed on.                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that at this time, police are prohibited            
 from releasing information on juveniles.  He asked why that                   
 prohibition could not be repealed, and the records could be made              
 public from that avenue.                                                      
 MR. CHRISTENSEN said he was not qualified to answer such a                    
 Number 1880                                                                   
 MR. LINDSTROM said his previous remarks generally dealt with both             
 Hbs 104 and 125.  To reinforce some of Ms. Knuth's statements, Mr.            
 Lindstrom said that the DHSS believes that once the regulatory                
 scheme is put into place, and the opportunity to work with                    
 individual school districts and other local law enforcement as                
 well, the existing law will allow the courts to do what the intent            
 of the bill really is.                                                        
 MR. LINDSTROM said there is a perception that DHSS does not share             
 any information at all with school districts at this time.  That is           
 not true.  Individual probation officers from the DFYS are                    
 constantly speaking with school personnel such as counselors and              
 teachers.  Perhaps communication does not take place so much with             
 principals.  Mr. Lindstrom does not know if concern for this                  
 information is originating from teachers or administrators.  DHSS             
 believes that given time and the ability to communicate, a lot of             
 contentions can be set right.                                                 
 Number 1930                                                                   
 MR. LINDSTROM said that DHSS recognizes on a need-to-know basis               
 that the DHSS not only has the ability to share, but the DHSS ought           
 to be sharing information with school districts to protect the                
 public, students and faculty.                                                 
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if DHSS had a time frame in mind.                       
 MR. LINDSTROM answered that the DFYS is currently going through a             
 massive regulatory project.  HB 412 allowed the DHSS to rewrite all           
 licensing regulations.  There are regulations which will result               
 from SB 45, the runaway bill from last year.  Regulations are                 
 resulting from SB 54, the waiver bill.  The DHSS is doing                     
 everything at once, and this massive program is going to take                 
 longer than both the DHSS and the legislature would like.                     
 Certainly, over the next interim, all those regulatory items will             
 be moving forward from the DFYS.                                              
 Number 1986                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the DHSS becomes involved in the                
 adjudication process, perhaps shortly after an arrest.                        
 MR. LINDSTROM asked if he could have the Director of the Division             
 of Family and Youth Services testify, as she is more knowledgeable            
 in this area.                                                                 
 CATHY TIBBLES, Director of the Division of Family and Youth                   
 Services, said the division does become involved after a police               
 report.  Probation officers are participating in an investigation             
 to see whether there is sufficient evidence to go forward.  They              
 also work with the DOL concerning the charges to be filed and how             
 likely it is a case will proceed through the court process.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the DFYS gets involved in every                 
 juvenile arrest, or just if the courts order the DFYS to do so.               
 MS. TIBBLES said the DFYS receives every police referral.  Some are           
 handled very informally, perhaps with parental meetings.  Those               
 that contain serious charges are handled with the DOL and go before           
 the court for a petition.  The court then decides what happens from           
 there.  The referral moves from the DFYS to the court, rather than            
 from the police to the court, and then to the DFYS.                           
 Number 2046                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the referral ever goes from the                 
 police to the courts without being sent to DFYS.                              
 MS. TIBBLES said it is possible for a person other than a DFYS                
 employee to petition the court on a juvenile or a child in need of            
 aid.  It is rarely done.  Generally, a division employee files a              
 petition to the court.  The court does not and cannot hear matters            
 without a petition being brought before it.                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY understood that if a person is arrested, there           
 is a period in which either bail is made or he or she is                      
 restrained.  They don't just arrest you and say, "Sign here, you              
 can go home now," unless perhaps it is a misdemeanor or a traffic             
 violation.  If you are arrested for a felony, you have lost your              
 civil rights until somehow the court is satisfied.  Representative            
 Vezey said he was not familiar enough with the system.  He wanted             
 to know if DFYS gets involved every time, how a juvenile is                   
 released from police custody, and does the court bring in a                   
 guardian of the juvenile.                                                     
 TAPE 95-11, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 MS. TIBBLES knew of instances, possibly just with misdemeanors,               
 where juveniles are not taken to a juvenile facility and booked.              
 She did not know about every single felony offense.  It seems that            
 Hbs 104 and 125 are speaking of felonies and she does not know the            
 level of seriousness of those felonies.  She did not know if all              
 arrests ends up in an overnight at a youth facility and a petition            
 to the court.  It often depends on the responsibility shown and               
 accepted by a parent, whether or not the child will be released to            
 a parent or taken to a facility.                                              
 MS. TIBBLES does not believe that the system operates exactly as an           
 adult felony arrest, although the processes are very much alike.              
 As in the adult system, the DOL would be involved in terms of what            
 charge will be brought to the court for the court to then resolve.            
 For example, is the crime a felony, would it be reduced to a                  
 misdemeanor, would there be a plea, would there be bail, etc.                 
 MS. TIBBLES said the legalities of the juvenile system are not that           
 different than the adult system.                                              
 Number 100                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said the point he was attempting to resolve is           
 what will have to be done to allow the police to release juvenile             
 MS. TIBBLES said one of the issues is a policy call, which is                 
 whether or not the legislature wants police to release the                    
 information.  It also depends on whether or not the legislature               
 wants police to release information to schools, or if the                     
 legislature wants to mandate that police release this information.            
 It depends on whether the legislature wants the police to release             
 information to schools prior to an adjudication.                              
 MS. TIBBLES said often, the initial charge does not end up being              
 the final charge.  She said it could probably be mandated that                
 police release information to schools at any desired level, however           
 the DOL could answer that question better than she.                           
 Number 180                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he has been trying to find the answer to            
 this question and cannot.                                                     
 Number 210                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said there is a very low number of intake             
 staff people at the DFYS, and that can also cause a major delay in            
 the process.                                                                  
 MS. TIBBLES said there is definitely a shortage of staff.  The                
 speed with which an investigation is completed, processed and a               
 determination is made about the final charge depends on the                   
 seriousness of the initial charge.  The DFYS responds in some                 
 fashion to every referral.  Misdemeanors and offenses such as                 
 shoplifting very often result in a letter sent to a parent saying,            
 if this happens again, a heavier penalty will occur.                          
 MS. TIBBLES continued that she does not know how fast the process             
 is.  The DFYS must set up some sort of prioritization for the                 
 juveniles and offenses that must be taken up quickly.  Some have to           
 do with the amount of time a child is detained before the DFYS can            
 proceed further.                                                              
 Number 304                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON clarified that in a misdemeanor case the              
 process may be slower than if the offense committed would be a                
 felony had it been perpetrated by an adult.  If a juvenile                    
 committed a serious felony offense, such as murder, Representative            
 Robinson finds it difficult to believe that in a community such as            
 Juneau that information would not be transmitted quickly "through             
 the grapevine" to the principals and the counselors at the youth's            
 MS. TIBBLES thought it would be difficult in Juneau for the school            
 administrators and faculty not to find out about a serious crime.             
 It is possible, however, in Anchorage.  There is a difference                 
 between what principals may know and what teachers and counselors             
 know by working day-to-day with probation staff.  That is a gap in            
 information that needs to be addressed.                                       
 Number 412                                                                    
 MS. KNUTH said the fact that DHSS is working on regulations that              
 are not yet completed does not mean that AS 47.10.90 and AS                   
 47.10.093 cannot be implemented right away.  To the extent that               
 there is a communication/information lag, steps can be immediately            
 taken to remedy that.  For example, a memorandum can be sent to               
 school districts, or calls can be made.  Given that the DHSS                  
 backlog is considerable, the DHSS does not have to be assigned that           
 MS. KNUTH continued that the DOL has a concern in all the bills               
 that requires disclosures to school principals in certain                     
 circumstances.  The law passed last year, AS 47.10.093, gives both            
 state and municipal agencies and law enforcement agencies the                 
 authority to disclose, to school officials, information regarding             
 the case as may be necessary to protect the safety of school                  
 students and staff.  There has not been an occasion under this new            
 statute where a school wanted information and it was withheld.                
 There just has not yet been any implementation of the law.                    
 Number 513                                                                    
 MS. KNUTH said that any time there is a mandatory disclosure, one             
 of the first concerns is, what effect might that have on an ongoing           
 investigation or other investigations.  Obviously, you do not want            
 to make a disclosure that may impede a very critical investigation.           
 If it is a violent offense, the thing to do is make the disclosure            
 a matter of timing.  These bills have all been amended through                
 Sponsor Substitutes (SS) or Committee Substitutes (CS) to have a              
 provision saying notwithstanding the mandatory disclosure                     
 provision, an agency is not required to notify a principal if the             
 agency determines that notice would jeopardize an ongoing                     
 MS. KNUTH felt this was a good provision, however she did not know            
 if it was an adequate provision.  It is something that may warrant            
 further study.                                                                
 MS. KNUTH addressed the wholesale opening of police records                   
 relating to juveniles.  There currently is a statute that prohibits           
 this, but that can be changed by the legislature.  The only                   
 concerns after that would be in regards to the withholding of                 
 federal funds.  Ms. Knuth is not aware of any such federal act that           
 would stipulate the withdrawal of those funds.                                
 MS. KNUTH said finally, one would have to ask, does such a                    
 disclosure violate the Alaskan or United States Constitution.  Ms.            
 Knuth is not aware of any federal constitutional provision that               
 could present a problem in this respect.  It is possible, in                  
 Alaska, for the Supreme Court to say that the right of privacy                
 requires a different treatment of juvenile records than adult                 
 records.  Our hopes for rehabilitation is greater in juveniles, and           
 more emphasis should be placed on privacy.                                    
 MS. KNUTH said the argument in either direction would be strong,              
 and she can speculate that the Alaska Supreme Court would stand               
 behind the privacy issue.  Aside from that, Ms. Knuth is not aware            
 of any other factor that would not allow the release of information           
 through the police agencies, if the policy were changed by the                
 Number 644                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why the arrest reports cannot simply be            
 made public.                                                                  
 MS. KNUTH believes that involves the constitutional issue, of                 
 whether people who have been arrested, but either not charged or              
 not convicted, have an interest in not having that information be             
 made public, and possibly tarnishing their reputations.  Everyone             
 hears about a juvenile who has been arrested for shoplifting or a             
 more serious offense.  Very few people hear that the person was not           
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that if a person was over 18 years old,             
 there is no question that a police report is public record.                   
 MS. KNUTH said that the police report is not public record.  In               
 fact, there is an entire mass of opinion which was she authored               
 concerning the public disclosure of police records.  There is not             
 one answer.  There is a continuum concerning how long ago the                 
 offense occurred, whether the defendant was a public figure, if               
 there was a conviction, if there was a charge, and what is the                
 likelihood that the allegations are true.  All these factors must             
 be weighed in order to decide whether information is disclosable or           
 MS. KNUTH said a question always exists regarding whether a police            
 record in Alaska is public knowledge.                                         
 Number 747                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said perhaps he was using the wrong term when            
 he said "police report."  He was under the impression that all                
 arrests in a community were made public in the newspaper if the               
 person was over 18 years old.                                                 
 MS. KNUTH said Representative Vezey was referring to the "Police              
 Blotter."  There are three rules applied.  The police blotter is a            
 daily record of arrests.  That is made public, including adult                
 arrests.  The actual report of the arrest and investigation is                
 probably not public at that time.                                             
 MS. KNUTH said that regarding convictions, the United States                  
 Supreme Court said that for federal purposes, a person could go to            
 any court and find out what conviction a person has.  However, an             
 individual cannot go to one agency, such as APSIN, and ask for a              
 person's history of criminal convictions.  Essentially, that is too           
 easy, according to the Supreme Court.  An individual can search and           
 go through a tough process of individual courts, and one by one               
 look for convictions.  However, people have an expectation of                 
 privacy and personal matters, including these criminal activities             
 such that the information is available, it is just not easily                 
 MS. KNUTH said someone is going to make that suggestion, in respect           
 to the law that comes into effect on July 1 when APSIN becomes                
 Number 844                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked where it says the disclosure of juvenile           
 arrests is not permitted in the police blotter or anywhere.  This             
 issue is not being addressed in any of the statutes discussed.                
 MS. KNUTH said AS 47.10.095 concerns the arrest of a minor.  It               
 says the arrest of a minor, other than for a traffic offense, is              
 not considered an arrest for any purpose except for the purpose of            
 the disposition of a proceeding arising out of that arrest.  She              
 said that is one statute that is cited when someone purports                  
 juvenile arrests are different from adult arrests in terms of what            
 information is disclosed and what is not.  There are probably other           
 statutes as well.                                                             
 Number 911                                                                    
 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director of the Alaska Council of School           
 Administrators, said the council is in support of HB 125.  The                
 principals across the state of Alaska believe this is very                    
 important information to share with school officials.  For years,             
 principals and other administrators have provided much information,           
 but have rarely, if ever, been the recipient of information when it           
 comes to children with a DFYS background.                                     
 MR. McPHETRES said that agencies have come to schools asking for or           
 requiring confidential information.  When a principal asks why the            
 information is needed, the agency will say, "We can't tell you,               
 it's confidential."  This has plagued teachers and administrators.            
 If the school system is going to work with the whole child, it                
 needs all the information necessary.  If there is some information            
 that is lacking, the ability to work with that child in the best              
 way possible is impaired.                                                     
 Number 965                                                                    
 MR. McPHETRES said the schools are dealing with situations that               
 were not present 20 years ago.  Youth are creating violent acts,              
 yet the school administrators are required to provide a safe                  
 environment in which all children can learn.  If administrators do            
 not have information about youth in the schools that have been                
 convicted of felony crimes, it is not possible to properly                    
 supervise and design intervention programs for them, and provide a            
 safe environment for all students.                                            
 MR. McPHETRES believes it is time for the sharing of information to           
 become a two-way street.  The State of Georgia Division of                    
 Protection conducted seminars across the country for many years.              
 This provided training for community groups regarding protection,             
 courts, juveniles and schools.  The seminars created committees               
 that worked with juvenile issues and problems.  It has been                   
 documented that these programs have helped lower crime rates within           
 the school communities.                                                       
 MR. McPHETRES stressed that the sharing of information does help.             
 It is time that confidence is placed in each other's abilities,               
 talents, skills and expertise, so the nature of the concerns before           
 the school systems today can be addressed.                                    
 Number 1043                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said he has heard varying opinions expressed.  He              
 asked if the relationship between the DFYS is cooperative or                  
 MR. McPHETRES answered that the relationship is cooperative up to             
 the point that the schools provide the information requested.  In             
 some cases there are some off-the-record comments made which help             
 administrators deal with the school's youth.  However, Mr.                    
 McPhetres does not believe the relationship is an open, two-way               
 street.  Obviously, this is because of the confidentiality which              
 exists in DFYS records, but somehow that logjam must be broken, and           
 two-way communication must be established.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if Mr. McPhetres believes that,                 
 instead of passing another law, that maybe there could be a meeting           
 set up between himself and the DHSS and the two-way information               
 exchange could be established.  There is an existing law that                 
 starts the process immediately, perhaps another law is not needed.            
 Number 1114                                                                   
 MR. McPHETRES said the school districts are aware of this piece of            
 legislation passed last year.  In fact, he was called and asked to            
 get copies of that legislation so the administrators could take it            
 down to their local law enforcement agencies and show that there is           
 something on the books that opens the door to sharing.                        
 MR. McPHETRES said the problem lies in the fact that the                      
 legislation is very permissive.  It says "may."  Whenever pieces of           
 legislation are created that say "may," that means the sharing of             
 information is up to the discretion of the individual.  The                   
 information being requested is very important.  That factor must be           
 addressed in some way, and Mr. McPhetres does not know how it is              
 addressed in the current legislation.                                         
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented on the difference between HB 125 and SB
 54.  First, not all felonies are waived to adult court, and SB 54             
 changed the burden of proof to the juvenile.  If the juvenile can             
 prove they are amenable to rehabilitation they will not be placed             
 in the adult court.  Therefore, serious crimes may be committed by            
 individuals who remain in the juvenile system.  In this case, the             
 information may not be available to the school district.                      
 Number 1197                                                                   
 VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director of the National Education                 
 Association (NEA) of Alaska, echoed a comment made relative to HB
 15.  When children are disruptive, they are generally in a                    
 classroom with other children and teachers.  NEA Alaska supports HB
 125 and the concept of allowing teachers and other school staff               
 access to legally permissible information that is subject to                  
 disclosure under the proper means.  The problems are in the                   
 classroom, and he wants to know if the information would also be              
 provided to teachers so both teachers and principals will be able             
 to deal with problems in terms of a corrective approach as well as            
 an information approach.                                                      
 MR. MARSHALL thinks that in sharing concerns with Ms. Gruening, she           
 can take care of NEA's concerns in the Judiciary Committee.  It is            
 fine to give information to principals.  But he hopes the principal           
 is not paralytic to the point that he or she is trying to figure              
 out what to do with the information.                                          
 MR. MARSHALL read page 4 of HB 125, line 29 which reads "...notify            
 the principal, who shall notify the staff of the school attended by           
 a minor...."  A person in that system needs to know that                      
 information.  This is a concern of the NEA.  Mr. Marshall agrees              
 with those testifying previously, it seems like teachers and                  
 principals often do not share information.  Sometimes teachers do             
 not know the kinds of information that is critically needed for               
 them to address the problem and also be aware of the problem.                 
 MR. MARSHALL suggests a clause be added to HB 125 to insure that              
 the principal pass the information on to the staff of the school              
 relative to what is legally permissible to disclose.                          
 Number 1346                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if Mr. Marshall thought that this               
 lack of information sharing was within the school system, and if              
 legislation and mandates were necessary.  She is concerned with               
 schools, and thinks that right now, information could be exchanged            
 if people could talk.  A parent simply needs to sign a waiver and             
 all information could be exchanged.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said it seems this lack of information                
 sharing is a structural problem within the school system that needs           
 to be worked on.  If the principal or the counselor gets                      
 information and is unwilling to share or does not know they should            
 share, that is a school system problem, and does not have to be               
 fixed through legislation.                                                    
 Number 1392                                                                   
 MR. MARSHALL said this is an issue that frustrated teachers one               
 year ago.  NEA participated in discussions relative to SB 54.  As             
 early as a month ago, the frustration level has not diminished.               
 The violence or disruption issue is of great concern to teachers              
 and staff members.  People in addition to teachers can be                     
 victimized by disinformation or the lack if information.  There is            
 a change in process, but there are also bills pending currently and           
 Mr. Marshall has a responsibility to convey that something is not             
 working.  Teachers in classrooms must be made aware of what is                
 going on.                                                                     
 MR. MARSHALL agrees that legislation is not necessary in all steps.           
 But this is a concern, and NEA wants to insure that information               
 reaches the classroom where it can do the most good.  This may be             
 through legislation or regulation.                                            
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY wanted to set up a working group after the meeting.           
 Obviously, many groups have many concerns, and she thinks that the            
 group can come up with one bill that will suffice for everyone.               
 The bill will need to keep teachers and students safe, the court              
 system happy and the funding flowing.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON hoped that Vernon Marshall would meet with            
 the other people who testified and attempt to solve the                       
 communication problems.                                                       
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY wanted to bring all interested parties back to the            
 meeting.  She urged everyone to come up with good ideas for a bill            
 that is meaningful to communities and the juveniles.                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects