Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/24/1997 09:03 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 132 CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFO, INCL. SEX OFFENDER                      
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  announced  SB 132  to be up for consideration.              
  ANNE CARPENETI,  Department of Law, explained that this bill has two         
 parts dealing with criminal background information.  The first part           
 amends AS 12.62 which is the criminal justice information systems             
 and the security statutes in two general ways; first by clarifying            
 procedures for a person to get background information held by the             
 FBI.  Secondly, it eliminates the historical time limitation on               
 prior convictions and the ability to obtain information on prior              
 convictions for State records.                                                
 Ms. Carpeneti said the second part of the bill brings the state in            
 compliance with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and              
 Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act.  In order to stay                 
 eligible for 100 percent funding from the Burn formula funding                
 grants the legislation is necessary.  It requires the state to                
 adopt a two-tier sex offender registration program - one for                  
 certain offenses against children and sexually violent crimes and             
 requires registration for at least 10 years.  The other second part           
 of the Wetterling Act provides more stringent registration                    
 requirements for sexually violent predators.  Ms. Carpeneti                   
 informed the committee that Alaska already has a two-step sex                 
 offender registration procedure.  The first is for 15-years for               
 first time sex offenders and the second requires recidivist sex               
 offenders to register for life.  Ms. Carpeneti explained that the             
 Wetterling Act requires the state to appoint panels of experts in             
 behavior and the treatment of sex offenders which would examine a             
 person who has been convicted of a sex offense and make a                     
 recommendation to the sentencing court whether or not that person             
 should be classified as a sexually violent predator.  If a person             
 is classified as a sexually violent predator, he or she would                 
 remain there until the board examined the person at a later date              
 and made the recommendation that the person is no longer sexually             
 violent.  The recommendation would have to go back to the original            
 sentencing court and the court would make the determination if that           
 person has ceased to be a sexually violent predator.                          
 Ms. Carpeneti said there are several problems with that approach.             
 The cost of establishing a statewide board of experts would be                
 significant and the second and more significant cost would be to              
 litigate whether or not the individual is a sexually violent                  
 predator and remains one.  The potential for litigation is for the            
 life of the person.  For these reasons, the department has been               
 working with the federal government on an alternate approach which            
 the department expects will be accepted.  The legislation proposes            
 in addition to the life-time registration of recidivist offenders,            
 to add to that category persons who are convicted for the first               
 time of the most serious sexual offenses, sexual assault in the               
 first degree (an unclassified felony) and sexual abuse of a minor             
 in the first degree (also an unclassified felony).  Ms. Carpeneti             
 said the Wetterling Act also requires verification of the addresses           
 of sexually violent predators through registration every 90 days.             
  SENATOR WARD  asked for a copy of the Wetterling Act for all                 
 committee members and asked if the state is receiving the grant               
 money now.   ANNE CARPENETI  replied yes.   SENATOR WARD  asked if            
 there is a document saying that our laws are out of compliance and            
 the state will not receive it this year.  Senator Ward requested a            
 copy of that also.   ANNE   CARPENETI  noted that the department has          
 had communications with the Department of Justice setting forth the           
 requirements of what the state must do.  At this point, the                   
 department knows that the state is not in compliance.  The federal            
 government has not formally said that the federal money will be cut           
 off.   SENATOR WARD  asked her to get a letter stating that to the            
 committee.   ANNE   CARPENETI  replied that she would do her best.            
  SENATOR GREEN  asked if there was a timing sequence that other               
 things might happen at the federal level.                                     
  TAPE 97-33, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 580                                                                   
   SENATOR GREEN  said that might make it easier for the state to              
 comport to what they have done afterwards.   ANNE   CARPENETI  replied        
 that two other pieces of law have been passed since the Wetterling            
 Act.  One is Megan's Law which addresses notification of the                  
 location of sex offenders and that is addressed in this bill by               
 allowing the Department of Public Safety to adopt regulations                 
 addressing notification.  The second is a bill requiring some time            
 in the future the FBI to establish a tracking system of sex                   
 offenders.  That is provided in this bill by requiring the                    
 Department of Public Safety to notify the State and FBI whenever a            
 sex offender moves out of State and notify the state they are                 
 moving to.                                                                    
 Ms. Carpeneti explained that other states are trying to find                  
 creative alternatives for the board of experts, but some of the               
 provisions of the Wetterling Act can't be changed.  The state has             
 adopted guidelines, which she will provide the committee, which               
 gives them a lot more freedom in certain areas.                               
  SENATOR GREEN  did not think the current sex offender registration           
 system in Alaska went far enough.   ANNE   CARPENETI  pointed out that        
 Alaska is more stringent than federal statutes, in that first                 
 offenses must register for 15 years.  The Wetterling Act starts               
 with 10 years as a floor rather than a ceiling.  Alaska also has              
 the life-time registration for recidivists which is more serious              
 that federal requirements.                                                    
  SENATOR GREEN  was concerned that the state would be pulling people          
 into the system who have only been charged, but not convicted.                
 Number 556                                                                    
  ANNE   CARPENETI  thought that was a reading mistake because you only        
 have to register after conviction.                                            
  SENATOR GREEN  asked her to explain page 2, section 4.   ANNE                
 CARPENETI  explained that section addresses the criminal justice              
 information security system which is different than the Wetterling            
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  asked what was challenged in court and then came            
 back in State law over the last couple of years.   ANNE   CARPENETI           
 replied that the ex-post facto issue, which means adopting a                  
 punishment that was not in affect when the act was committed was              
 challenged.  She found that no state or federal court has upheld              
 the challenge based and our case in Alaska has been dismissed.                
  CHAIRMAN WILKEN  said that SB 132 would be held for further                  
 discussion and adjourned the meeting at 9:56 a.m.                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects