Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/16/2004 01:10 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 487 - DETENTION OF MINORS                                                                                                  
Number 0163                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 487,  "An Act  relating to  the detention  of                                                               
delinquent  minors   in  correctional  facilities;   relating  to                                                               
emergency  detention of  minors  for  evaluation for  involuntary                                                               
admission for  mental health treatment; relating  to detention of                                                               
intoxicated minors and minors incapacitated  by alcohol or drugs;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
Number 0179                                                                                                                     
PATTY  WARE,  Director,  Division   of  Juvenile  Justice  (DJJ),                                                               
Department of Health & Social  Services (DHSS), explained that HB
487  modifies the  statutes pertaining  to delinquency,  alcohol,                                                               
and mental  health so  that state statute  will be  in compliance                                                               
with  the  federal  requirements  of  the  Juvenile  Justice  and                                                               
Delinquency  Prevention Act  (JJDPA), which  prohibits the  state                                                               
from holding in  a locked facility, whether an  adult facility or                                                               
a juvenile  justice facility, kids  who are only there  by virtue                                                               
of a mental  illness, a disability, or severe  intoxication.  She                                                               
went on to say:                                                                                                                 
     I do  want to  emphasis that this  does not  impact the                                                                    
     state's    ability   to    hold   juvenile    offenders                                                                    
     accountable,  or to  hold accused  juvenile delinquents                                                                    
     in adult  facilities in rural Alaska  as necessary when                                                                    
     they're charged with a crime.   The issue is that right                                                                    
     now,  Alaska statutes  allow us  to  hold, for  certain                                                                    
     lengths  of  time,  both   juveniles  and  adults  when                                                                    
     they're  severely  intoxicated  or  when  they  have  a                                                                    
     mental illness  - for purposes of  their own protection                                                                    
     -  but the  federal rules  require that  we have  state                                                                    
     statutes  that   [are]  consistent  with   the  federal                                                                    
     language.   So we need  to have this bill  move forward                                                                    
     so  that we  can  retain our  existing federal  dollars                                                                    
     that  we receive  from the  Office of  Juvenile Justice                                                                    
     and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP].                                                                                        
     We  have  prepared a  one-page  summary  sheet for  the                                                                    
     committee ...  that will let  you all know that  we are                                                                    
     already ... grossly out of  compliance with the federal                                                                    
     requirements.   We  are working  hard  to address  that                                                                    
     issue,  but  in  essence  what you  have  before  makes                                                                    
     statutory changes for Alaska  statutes so that we're in                                                                    
     compliance with  federal requirements.  I  guess I also                                                                    
     want to  say that  the federal  changes took  effect on                                                                    
     October 1  of 2003, and so  we have already been,  as a                                                                    
     state  system, making  the  necessary  changes so  that                                                                    
     we're not  holding "Title 47" juveniles  in juvenile or                                                                    
     adult  facilities.    We're working  closely  with  the                                                                    
     Department  of  Public  Safety [DPS]  and  the  [Alaska                                                                    
     State]  Troopers so  that  as  they identify  high-need                                                                    
     areas, we can develop alternative for these kids.                                                                          
Number 0314                                                                                                                     
MS. WARE added:                                                                                                                 
     I also  want to  say to the  committee that  we already                                                                    
     have a wide array of  alternatives across the state; we                                                                    
     have  non-secure shelters  in  a variety  of urban  and                                                                    
     rural locations in Alaska.   We are using these federal                                                                    
     funds, as well as some  [general fund (GF)] dollars, to                                                                    
     expand those  non-secure shelters  so that ...  we have                                                                    
     more  appropriate  placements  for  kids  who  are  not                                                                    
     charged with  a crime but  who clearly have  needs that                                                                    
     need to  be addressed.   So one  example I  would share                                                                    
     with  you is  that in  Bethel,  ... 25  percent of  our                                                                    
     detention admissions  in fiscal year [FY]  03 were made                                                                    
     up  of  "Title  47"  holds, either  alcohol  or  mental                                                                    
     health.   We  work  closely  with the  [Yukon-Kuskokwim                                                                    
     Health   Corporation  (YKHC)]   so   that  they   would                                                                    
     basically reserve  a couple of hospital  beds to accept                                                                    
     those   young  people   in,  which   is  frankly   more                                                                    
     appropriate anyway because then  they can refer them to                                                                    
     appropriate  behavioral health  services as  necessary.                                                                    
     I'd be happy to answer any questions.                                                                                      
CHAIR McGUIRE noted that the aforementioned summary sheet in                                                                    
members' packets is dated 2/20/04.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM asked what current costs are as compared to                                                                 
the cost of complying with federal standards.                                                                                   
MS. WARE replied:                                                                                                               
     These  are not,  technically, new  standards.   The Act                                                                    
     has  been around  since 1974,  [so]  Alaska [has]  been                                                                    
     struggling  with  these  requirements for  many  years.                                                                    
     There  will not  be  significant  or, frankly,  really,                                                                    
     additional  cost to  come into  compliance because,  in                                                                    
     practice, we've  been working on  this for  many years.                                                                    
     In terms of  the loss of the federal  revenue, what you                                                                    
     would see is a reduction  in alternatives for juveniles                                                                    
     that we  currently fund  with these  dollars, including                                                                    
     ...  the non-secure  shelters that  we already  have in                                                                    
     Fairbanks,  Juneau, Kenai,  Kodiak, Ketchikan,  Valdez,                                                                    
     [and] Sitka, with about eight  more due to come on line                                                                    
     within the next, roughly, six months.                                                                                      
Number 0577                                                                                                                     
MS. WARE,  in response to  a further  question, said that  of the                                                               
$700,000 in federal  funds that the state  is currently receiving                                                               
and that would  be jeopardized by failing to  comply with federal                                                               
standards, roughly  $100,000 to $120,000 is  spent on compliance-                                                               
monitoring activities,  which verify  that the  department's data                                                               
is accurate and  that it can do  "site visits."  The  bulk of the                                                               
remaining  money goes  toward funding  services in  Alaska.   She                                                               
added, "This is  'best practice'; it is important  for ... Alaska                                                               
not to  be incarcerating juveniles,  in either adult  or juvenile                                                               
facilities, when they haven't committed an offense."                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM asked  what  the state  is  proposing to  do                                                               
differently  in  order  to  come  into  compliance  with  federal                                                               
MS. WARE replied:                                                                                                               
     The  changing  of  our  ways  has  [consisted  of]  ...                                                                    
     intensive  partnering with  a number  of ...  nonprofit                                                                    
     ...   [and  local   and]   state  government   agencies                                                                    
     including  ...  the   [Alaska  State]  Troopers,  [the]                                                                    
     Office  of Children's  Services within  [the DHSS],  as                                                                    
     well  as  [the] Division  of  Behavioral  Health.   The                                                                    
     expansion ...  in Bethel  is a very  good example  of a                                                                    
     very  positive  partnership,  which   has,  in  a  very                                                                    
     positive way, impacted what  was severe overcrowding in                                                                    
     the Bethel  Youth Facility  for almost  a decade.   Our                                                                    
     admissions  and  our   overcrowding  are  significantly                                                                    
     reduced in  addition to getting much  improved services                                                                    
     for those  kids. ... In  Fairbanks, ... as a  result of                                                                    
     both ... this federal change  as well as a group effort                                                                    
     at the local level, ...  there has been the addition of                                                                    
     some "detox  beds" that will  serve only  juveniles; in                                                                    
     fact, I think it began this week.                                                                                          
     So essentially this  has kind of forced us  to push the                                                                    
     dialog  with  existing   providers  in  Anchorage  that                                                                    
     includes both  Providence [Alaska Medical  Center], the                                                                    
     single  point   of  entry,  as  well   as  [the  Alaska                                                                    
     Psychiatric Institute (API)].   And, as I  may not have                                                                    
     mentioned specifically  enough, we  are in  the process                                                                    
     of   the  procurement   piece  for   adding  non-secure                                                                    
     shelters  -  we already  signed  the  agreement in  the                                                                    
     [Matanuska-Susitna ("Mat-Su")]  valley, we're  adding a                                                                    
     shelter  in  Anchorage,  in  Barrow,  in  Wrangell,  in                                                                    
     Dillingham,  Kotzebue, Emmonak,  and Hooper  Bay -  and                                                                    
     we're  making those  decisions based  on the  high-need                                                                    
     areas.  I  mean I recognize that we  don't have, quote,                                                                    
     "extra money"  to fund services,  but in essence  we do                                                                    
     have  to  take the  data  that  we  have and  plug  the                                                                    
     dollars in  where those high-need areas  are, and we're                                                                    
     using input from [the DPS] to help us do that.                                                                             
Number 0773                                                                                                                     
MS. WARE, in  response to further questions,  said that Fairbanks                                                               
has  had  a non-secure  shelter  for  many  years and  that  that                                                               
shelter  will  continue  to  operate,   and  indicated  that  the                                                               
aforementioned detox  beds in Fairbanks  are at the  Ralph Purdue                                                               
Center   and  are   being  managed   by   the  Fairbanks   Native                                                               
Association's Behavioral Health Services.   She then relayed that                                                               
the  primary "needs"  areas are  not  in urban  Alaska; in  urban                                                               
areas  there  are  already alternatives  to  placing  "Title  47"                                                               
juveniles  in locked  facilities.   Therefore, the  goal of  this                                                               
legislation  is   to  change  Alaska   statute  to   reflect  the                                                               
department's current practice.   Ms. Ware noted  that the federal                                                               
requirements  do  allow  states  some  level  of  violations  per                                                               
100,000 population.   In essence, the  department recognizes that                                                               
there will always be some  situations in rural Alaska wherein the                                                               
state does  the best that  it can but still  has to use  a locked                                                               
facility because it is the only  place, the safest place, to hold                                                               
a "Title 47" juvenile, but the  goal is to target funding towards                                                               
high-need communities such as Emmonak and Hooper Bay.                                                                           
CHAIR McGUIRE asked how "grave disability" is defined.                                                                          
MS. WARE  indicated that there is  a definition in AS  47.30, and                                                               
that she would provide its  exact wording to the committee later.                                                               
In practice, however, if a  law enforcement officer believes that                                                               
someone,  through some  level of  disability, poses  a threat  to                                                               
himself/herself or others,  is gravely disabled, and  there is no                                                               
local evaluation facility, then  state statute allows that person                                                               
to be  put in  an adult  - or, in  the DJJ's  case, a  juvenile -                                                               
facility  until   he/she  can  be  transported   to  the  nearest                                                               
appropriate evaluation facility.                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  said she'd  like to  know the  distinction between                                                               
grave disability and mental illness.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  indicated that  he may have  a conflict                                                               
because of his  son, and asked to be excused  from voting on this                                                               
Number 1045                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE  objected,  indicating   that  should  a  vote  be                                                               
required,   Representative   Gruenberg   would  be   allowed   to                                                               
MS.  WARE, in  response  to questions  from Representative  Gara,                                                               
reiterated  her  earlier   explanations  regarding  what  current                                                               
practice  consists  of, what  the  bill  does, what  will  change                                                               
because of the bill's passage,  and how violations will be viewed                                                               
by the federal government.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  expressed alarm that  the state has  been in                                                               
the  practice of  locking up  "Title  47" juveniles  and is  only                                                               
changing that  practice because of  the threat of  losing federal                                                               
MS. WARE  replied that the  state has  been working very  hard to                                                               
change that  practice and  the federal  government has  been very                                                               
understanding of violations  up to this point;  now, however, the                                                               
federal government is requiring a higher level of compliance.                                                                   
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  looking through  current statute,  relayed                                                               
that the definition  of "gravely disabled" can be  found under AS                                                               
47.30.915, which says:                                                                                                          
          (7) "gravely disabled" means a condition in which                                                                     
     a person as a result of mental illness                                                                                     
          (A) is in danger of physical harm arising from                                                                        
     such  complete   neglect  of  basic  needs   for  food,                                                                    
     clothing,  shelter, or  personal  safety  as to  render                                                                    
     serious accident, illness, or  death highly probable if                                                                    
     care by another is not taken; or                                                                                           
          (B) will, if not treated, suffer or continue to                                                                       
     suffer  severe  and   abnormal  mental,  emotional,  or                                                                    
     physical  distress,  and  this distress  is  associated                                                                    
     with  significant impairment  of  judgment, reason,  or                                                                    
     behavior  causing a  substantial  deterioration of  the                                                                    
     person's previous ability to function independently;                                                                       
CHAIR McGUIRE  asked why, on page  2, line 26, the  term "gravely                                                               
disabled" is  used instead  of simply saying,  "those who  are in                                                               
protective custody due to mental illness".   She said that she is                                                               
trying  to envision  a circumstance  wherein  someone is  gravely                                                               
disabled but not also mentally ill.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted  that  when  the  definition  of                                                               
"gravely disabled"  was initially adopted, it  had been carefully                                                               
crafted for  the purpose of  filling a  specific gap in  the law.                                                               
He asked that this language not be changed in the bill.                                                                         
MS. WARE offered  to do some research on this  issue and get back                                                               
to the committee.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  said why  it  isn't  acceptable to  hold                                                               
juveniles in a locked facility for the crime of minor consuming.                                                                
MS.  WARE  said  that  because   minor  consuming  is  a  "status                                                               
offense,"  meaning that  someone  is only  charged  by virtue  of                                                               
his/her being  a certain age,  law enforcement is not  allowed to                                                               
hold  such  an  individual  in a  locked  facility.    Protective                                                               
custody pertains  solely to  the "Title  47" elements  related to                                                               
severe intoxication,  and is a judgment  call on the part  of law                                                               
Number 1476                                                                                                                     
ALLEN  STOREY, Lieutenant,  Central  Office,  Division of  Alaska                                                               
State Troopers, Department of Public  Safety (DPS), said that the                                                               
DPS supports HB 487  and is working with the DJJ  in an effort to                                                               
comply with  the federal  requirements.   He noted  that although                                                               
some rural communities have had  a bit of difficulty in complying                                                               
with  the federal  requirements, they  are working  diligently to                                                               
correct their situations.   He opined that the  provisions of the                                                               
federal requirements are  workable, and relayed that  the DJJ has                                                               
made  a  firm  commitment  to   working  with  and  training  law                                                               
enforcement personnel across  the state to ensure  that there are                                                               
a minimum of violations.                                                                                                        
CHAIR McGUIRE offered that the  committee would like to see those                                                               
efforts continued and appreciates all the work done thus far.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  noted a typo on  page 2, line 30:   the                                                               
word "take" should be "taken".                                                                                                  
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
speak on the bill, closed public testimony on HB 487.                                                                           
Number 1612                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to report  HB 487 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations   [and  the  accompanying  zero                                                               
fiscal notes].   There  being no objection,  HB 487  was reported                                                               
from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                    

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