Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/28/1994 01:15 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 162 - CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER Number 107 MAYDULENO ROSE-AUILA, Regional Director, Amnesty International, testified against HB 162. Mr. Rose-Auila said capital punishment shows evidence of racism and the cost is excessive. He cited a study that shows more people in favor of life without parole than capital punishment. Number 213 WEV SHEA, an Anchorage attorney and former U.S. attorney, testified against HB 162. He indicated that he had recommended the death penalty in two cases at the federal level. Mr. Shea said the Department of Law and the governor's office were not qualified to carry out capital punishment. He also said Alaska does not need a death penalty at this time, and that HB 162 is unconstitutional. Number 331 REP. PORTER discussed HJR 43, relating to victims rights, and said it was going through the process. Number 337 REP. KOTT asked when and if Alaska would need a death penalty. MR. SHEA discussed checks and balances, and said the federal system provides excellent checks and balances in death penalty issues. Number 440 MARIETTA JAEGER, representing Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, testified against HB 162. Ms. Jaeger shared her experience with the committee as the mother of a seven year old daughter that was kidnapped and murdered in Montana. Her daughter's killer was offered the alternative of life in prison without the possibility of parole, which he accepted, and then confessed to her daughter's murder and others. MS. JAEGER continued, saying proponents of the death penalty say it is for the benefit of the family, and she strongly disagrees, saying it is vindictive and adds to the violence spiral. Number 562 STEVE McCOY, an elementary school teacher in Anchorage, testified against HB 162. He related experiences his students had with the death penalty and the harm he felt it caused them. Number 613 JEFF SILVERMAN testified on behalf of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) in opposition to HB 162. Mr. Silverman stated that the death penalty is unfair to minorities and unbalanced. Number 634 PAT RAWERT of Fairbanks testified against HB 162. Ms. Rawert stated that society is becoming more like criminals, and the death penalty would only reinforce violence in society. Number 661 DALEE SAMBO testified on behalf of the Alaska Intertribal Council in opposition to HB 162. Ms. Sambo told the committee that it is critical to point out that indigenous people are distinct people with distinct rights and only by population are a minority. She said in the event of a death penalty that it would disproportionally fall on Native people. Number 789 SCOTT STERLING, an Anchorage attorney, testified against HB 162 and asked that his written statement be added to the record. TAPE 94-11, SIDE B Number 108 NANCY SHAFER, Justice Center, University of Alaska, Anchorage, said she was asked to testify about deterrence studies. Ms. Shafer explained how the studies are conducted and briefly discussed a number of studies that find little or no impact on deterrence in states that have the death penalty. Ms. Shafer suggested very strongly that virtually every study is flawed in some fashion because of incomplete data from the 1930's through 1950's, and also because there is no way to know how aware the public is regarding the status of the death penalty in their state. Number 262 JIM CANNON, a Fairbanks attorney, said that he was testifying against HB 162 as his personal opinion. Mr. Cannon discussed a book which concludes there is no known deterrence for murder because of the death penalty, and cited other studies that draw the same conclusion. He concurred with Mr. Shea's assessment that the Attorney General's Office does not have the expertise to prosecute death penalty cases. Mr. Cannon asked the committee to consider if we are morally entitled to make a decision of this kind. Number 383 KIM McGEE testified from Anchorage against HB 162 on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers. Ms. McGee said the death penalty is an affront to life and devalues life. Number 437 BRANT MCGEE, Director, Office of Public Advocacy (OPA), testified that there is no evidence that the death penalty saves money, and asked the committee to take note of OPA's fiscal note. Number 510 ROBERT ANDERSON of Fairbanks testified that he is in favor of HB 162. Number 567 KEVIN McCOY, an Anchorage attorney, testified against HB 162. Mr. McCoy endorsed Mr. Shea's comments and pointed out that Alaskan judges don't hesitate to use sentencing to ensure the offender will die in jail. Number 678 AVERIL LERMAN testified against HB 162 and supported Rep. Bettye Davis' earlier request to study the impact of the death penalty on minorities. Ms. Lerman discussed Alaska's historical relationship with the death penalty and cited statistics on whites versus minorities in Alaska given the death penalty. Number 799 RACHEL KING, Alaskans Against the Death Penalty (AADP), testified against HB 162. Ms. King stated that AADP is a group of people that joined together to opposed HB 162 for the following reasons: excessive cost, the fact that the death penalty does not deter murder, and racial disparity. Ms. King added that there are better alternatives to the death penalty. Number 842 CYNTHIA STREET, an Anchorage attorney, addressed concerns relating to minors under the proposed juvenile waiver. Ms. Street said that HB 162 doesn't exempt minors, and she doesn't believe society should be executing sixteen year olds. She said she opposes HB 162. TAPE 94-12, SIDE A Number 002 MARY GEDDES, an Anchorage attorney, testified against HB 162. Ms. Geddes cited the economic costs, psychic, and emotional toll the death penalty exacts on society. Number 145 JANA VARRATI testified from Anchorage against HB 162. She asked about the cumulative costs of the fiscal notes for HB 162 and said the costs are mind boggling. Ms. Varrati proposed putting the issue on the ballot with a special dedicated tax to support the executions, with the point being an execution couldn't be carried out until there was enough money. Number 238 BARBARA HOOD, area coordinator for Amnesty International, testified in opposition to HB 162 and endorsed the testimony of Mr. Rose-Auila. Number 334 FRANK SMITH testified from Barrow against HB 162. Mr. Smith described his corrections background and presented a historical review of the death penalty. He said the death penalty does not deter capital crimes. Number 433 JOHN CREIGHTON testified from Bethel on behalf of Amnesty International in opposition to HB 162. Number 550 Rep. Porter concluded the teleconference and public testimony and indicated that the committee would rap up the hearing on HB 162 on Monday, January 31. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:45 p.m.