Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/16/1993 01:00 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 195:  AUTHORIZING YOUTH COURTS                                            
  Number 612                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JOE SITTON, PRIME SPONSOR of HB 195,                          
  commented that his bill enjoyed bipartisan and statewide                     
  support.  He said that the bill would authorize the creation                 
  of a program under the DHSS in which youths under the age of                 
  18 who had allegedly committed an offense could choose to go                 
  through a youth court proceeding, instead of through the                     
  regular court system.  In order to go through the youth                      
  court, he said, the juvenile, his or her parents, juvenile                   
  intake authorities, and the youth court would have to agree                  
  to have the case heard in the youth court.                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON commented that other states had youth                  
  courts, but in Alaska, only Anchorage had such a program.                    
  The Anchorage program had proved successful since its                        
  inception in 1989, he said, showing a dramatic decrease in                   
  recidivism, as compared to other courts.  He commented that                  
  one reason the Anchorage youth court was so successful was                   
  because it relied on volunteers.  He said that the Anchorage                 
  youth court program relied on the DHSS, the court system,                    
  the Alaska Bar Association, the school district, and law                     
  enforcement agencies.                                                        
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON stated that cases were referred to the                 
  youth court by juvenile probation officers or other                          
  entities.  He noted that the youth court had the same                        
  provisions protecting an individual's rights as the adult                    
  court system had.  He commented that the very youth that                     
  could be a problem to society could also be part of the                      
  solution.  He said that the court was composed of students                   
  under the age of 18 who volunteered as bailiffs, judges,                     
  jurors, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and clerks.                          
  Additionally, he said, the students were required to undergo                 
  intensive training and pass a youth court bar examination.                   
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON stated that HB 195 would allow a youth                 
  court program to be implemented in areas of the state other                  
  than Anchorage.  He said that HB 195 contained a match                       
  requirement for grants.  He stated that the Health,                          
  Education, and Social Services (HESS) Committee substitute                   
  for HB 195 contained two changes from the original bill.                     
  One change was that the term "nonprofit corporations" had                    
  been replaced with "persons."  That change allowed for                       
  individuals, governmental bodies, and corporations to be                     
  eligible for youth court grants.                                             
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON said that the HESS Committee had also                  
  omitted a section relating to grant funds, in order to                       
  create two separate funds.  He noted that a draft committee                  
  substitute dated April 13, 1993, before the committee,                       
  reversed both changes made by the HESS Committee.  He said                   
  that the youth court program was a proven success and should                 
  be expanded to other areas of the state.  He urged the                       
  committee to support HB 195.                                                 
  Number 689                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN indicated his wholehearted support for                  
  HB 195.  He asked Representative Sitton how youth court                      
  sentences compared to juvenile court sentences.                              
  Additionally, he asked what percentage of people who could                   
  use the youth court chose to do so.  He asked if perhaps the                 
  low recidivism rate was attributable to the type of people                   
  who chose to use the youth court system.                                     
  Number 706                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON responded that students involved in                    
  the Anchorage youth court program took their involvement                     
  very seriously, and tended to be "hanging judges."  He cited                 
  one instance in which an offender being tried by the youth                   
  court was caught in a lie.  The recommended sentence was for                 
  that youth to walk the streets wearing a sign saying that he                 
  was a liar.  He noted that the youth court received                          
  supervision from adults, so that it did not impose sentences                 
  which were too strict.  He stated that the program's                         
  recidivism rate was admirable.                                               
  Number 724                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN restated his question regarding the                     
  type of people who elected to go to youth court, and its                     
  effect on the recidivism rate.                                               
  Number 728                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE SITTON replied that Representative Green                      
  might be correct.  He commented that if, instead of a                        
  juvenile offender being able to strut before his or her                      
  peers after committing an offense, he or she were made by                    
  those same peers to perform community service, they received                 
  condemnation, not approbation.                                               
  TAPE 93-63, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  MR. HINES stated that the DHSS had submitted a zero fiscal                   
  note for HB 195, and added that the department strongly                      
  supported the bill.  He cited the excellent results of the                   
  Anchorage youth court program.  He commented that youth                      
  courts generally dealt with younger juveniles who committed                  
  first-time property offenses.                                                
  Number 027                                                                   
  stated that the changes incorporated in CSHB 195 (JUD) were                  
  technical in nature.  He suggested that CSHB 195 (JUD) be                    
  AMENDED on page 2, lines 4-5 to DELETE the phrase "use of                    
  `pre-petition diversion programs'."  He stated that the                      
  amendment would make the language of the bill more accurate,                 
  as the present court rules did not specifically authorize                    
  the use of pre-petition diversion programs.                                  
  Number 083                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN MOVED AMENDMENT NO. 1.  There being no                  
  objection, IT WAS ADOPTED.  However, it was discovered that                  
  CSHB 195 (JUD) was not properly before the committee.                        
  Number 100                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a MOTION to ADOPT CSHB 195 (JUD),                  
  dated April 13, 1993.  There being no objection, IT WAS SO                   
  Number 104                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN again MOVED AMENDMENT NO. 1.  There                     
  being no objection, AMENDMENT NO. 1 WAS ADOPTED.                             
  Number 111                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JAMES made a MOTION to MOVE CSHB 195 (JUD)                    
  out of committee, with individual recommendations and a zero                 
  fiscal note.                                                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT OBJECTED.  He pointed out possibly                       
  conflicting language on page 4, line 21, regarding matching                  
  Number 170                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that the language provided that if a                  
  nonprofit corporation wanted to apply for a grant, then it                   
  was required to match that grant, unless that requirement                    
  was waived.                                                                  
  Number 177                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT commented that the use of "must" and                     
  "may" in the same section appeared to be contradictory.                      
  Number 180                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER understood Representative Kott's concern,                    
  but noted that in order for a waiver to occur, a condition                   
  must be required in the first place.                                         
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT WITHDREW his OBJECTION.  There being no                  
  further objection to moving CSHB 195 (JUD) out of committee,                 
  IT WAS SO ORDERED.                                                           
  An "at ease" was called at 5:10 p.m.                                         
  Number 203                                                                   
  The committee meeting was called back to order at 5:12 p.m.,                 
  and began its consideration of HB 132.                                       

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