Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/16/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, STAFF COUNSEL, ALASKA COURT SYSTEM, 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 ORDERED. 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 grants. 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.