Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/24/2001 03:08 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 247-DETENTION OF DELINQUENT MINORS CHAIR DYSON announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 247, "An Act relating to the detention of delinquent minors and to temporary detention hearings; amending Rule 12, Alaska Delinquency Rules; and providing for an effective date." Number 1380 REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, came forth as sponsor of HB 247 and said: The State of Alaska receives federal grant funding to implement mandates of the Juvenile Justice [and] Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. And Alaska stands to lose $168,000 of federal funds because of the number of youth temporarily held in rural and remote jails throughout Alaska prior to an initial court hearing and transport to a youth facility. ... [For example], when a juvenile commits a serious offense in a rural or remote community [he or she] may need to be detained upon arrest in order to protect the public, depending on what the juvenile has done. ... There are only six juvenile detention centers through Alaska, so serious juvenile offenders in remote communities often end up in village adult lockup facilities or jails awaiting ... relocation to a juvenile facility. Federal regulations require that juveniles in adult facilities not be held more that 24 hours; however, the regulations also allow a state to extend those time limits because of adverse weather, limited transportation options, and other conditions, which certainly pertain to us here in Alaska. Such an extension is only available, though, in states where juveniles must make an initial appearance in court within 24 hours of arrest. ... House Bill 247 would require an initial appearance in court within 24 hours, instead of the current 48 hours ... for juveniles placed in an adult jail or lockup, and would place the federal regulation exception language into state statute. [This] would then secure the federal funds that we most desperately need. Number 1479 ROBERT BUTTCANE, Legislative and Administrative Liaison, Division of Juvenile Justice, Department of Health & Social Services, came forth and pointed out that this bill would only impact the process for juveniles held in adult facilities. The 48-hour arraignment schedule that applies to those that are held in the juvenile facilities would not be changed. This would afford some additional rights to juveniles who are held in "bad beds" for the court to have the opportunity to make sure [the youth] are being treated properly, and to encourage the system to move them as quickly and safely as is practically possible into one of the juvenile facilities. He stated that this doesn't happen to an extensive number of cases in the state, but when it does, it jeopardizes the federal funding. CHAIR DYSON asked if there is a track record of children being abused while being held in adult facilities. MR. BUTTCANE responded that he cannot say he is directly aware of that. [The Division of Juvenile Justice] does have a contract with the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, which annually tracks all of the juveniles who are held in the adult facilities. CHAIR DYSON asked why this is occurring so late in the [legislative] session. MR. BUTTCANE stated that he does not have the answer for that. Number 1614 REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked if there is a protocol for when a minor is placed in an adult prison. MR. BUTTCANE responded yes, that training is provided to the rural jail supervisors. He said there are some specific rules such as that juveniles are not to be put in the same cell with adults and that there ideally is sight and sound separation. He said there are situations in which jails are small and may consist of one or two rooms. When that happens, the juvenile may be in one room and the adult in the other. He said he is aware that some jails will release adult prisoners in order to hold juvenile offenders pending transport into a regional youth facility. He stated that there are supervision requirements, time-schedule requirements as to how often the youths should be checked, juvenile probation and parent notification requirements, and requirements that the youth be transported as quickly and safely as is practical. He noted that last year signs were printed up that outlined some of the major rules and were sent to each community with an adult holding facility. He stated that there is follow-up paper work that is sent to the division as well as the University of Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON stated that in her district, Wrangell, there are several times when a juvenile is held, but because of weather, planes can't get out. She asked if this would be an uncontrollable reason [for holding a juvenile]. MR. BUTTCANE answered that she was correct. He stated that this bill is not asking that juveniles be held in these facilities any longer; it is an opportunity to allow [the Division of Juvenile Justice] to claim some administrative exemptions in order to continue receiving federal funding. Number 1802 REPRESENTATIVE MEYER stated that one of the changes being made in the bill is that in order to keep the juveniles longer, they have to be given a court hearing within 24 hours; the current state law is 48 [hours]. He added that there is a zero fiscal note; however, by having these court hearings within 24 hours, the hearings could be held on the weekends, which could mean an additional cost. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked if magistrate access is anticipated in the more remote areas. MR. BUTTCANE responded that the court can appoint magistrates to hear children's cases in emergencies. Sometimes the court will appoint standing masters for ongoing children's cases. If a local community does have a magistrate, the juvenile taken into custody will oftentimes make an appearance before the magistrate. However, other parties might be there by telephone. In communities that don't have a magistrate, someone will appear on the phone from a regional hub. He stated that based on the fiscal year 2000 cases in which children were taken into custody, there would have been an additional 31 cases that would have required an appearance in court one day earlier than what is allowed now. Number 1968 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE moved to report HB 247 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal notes. There being no objection, HB 247 moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.