Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/27/1998 09:02 AM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB 246 - HARBORVIEW DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER                           
REPRESENTATIVE GENE KUBINA, Valdez, joined committee members at the            
BETSY ROBSON, Assistant Director of the Division of Institutions,              
Department of Corrections (DOC), gave the following testimony.  DOC            
is very excited about the implications of SB 246.  The first                   
section of SB 246 allows DOC's Commissioner the authority to                   
establish a therapeutic community for incarcerated offenders,                  
specifically those offenders with serious drug problems.  DOC                  
currently provides substance abuse counseling in the form of                   
education classes, pretreatment sessions and an outpatient mode of             
treatment.  The addition of this 60 bed therapeutic community will             
allow DOC to provide a full continuum of treatment to offenders.               
Similar programs in other states have shown that this type of                  
counseling can interrupt the criminal cycle of participants, and               
can impact recidivism rates.                                                   
CHAIRMAN WILKEN noted committee members received a copy of the                 
Research Summary by Research Roundup, as well as other information             
from Ms. Robson.                                                               
MS. ROBSON stated the first page of Research Summary provides a                
graphic picture of how therapy can impact offenders and recidivism.            
The following two pages contain four bar charts that demonstrate               
the effectiveness of treatment.  She stated when she last testified            
on this bill before a legislative committee, concern was expressed             
about the limited amount of research this project was based on, so             
she has provided three studies conducted over longer periods of                
time; an 11 year study, a five year study, and a three year study.             
All three studies show positive results.  One of the things that               
will make this therapeutic community unique is the fact that DOC               
will be exploring the addition of cultural relevancy to this type              
of treatment.  Cultural relevancy has been applied in substance                
abuse counseling on a limited basis and has been very effective.               
DOC received $50,000 last year to address this issue and plans to              
use those funds to begin training substance abuse counselors                   
working with the prison population.  MS. ROBSON informed committee             
members Dugan Petty could speak to the issues surrounding the                  
conveyance of the state facility.                                              
Number 099                                                                     
DUGAN PETTY, Director of the Division of General Services,                     
Department of Administration (DOA), made the following comments.               
DOA, DHSS and DOC have been negotiating with the City of Valdez                
about the transfer of the Harborview Developmental Center.  DOA                
screened other state agencies to find out if any have a further use            
for the facility and none do.  The facility is currently housing               
the Valdez hospital.  The Harborview Developmental Center is the               
first state facility of its size to be decommissioned so DOA has               
taken a careful approach.  DOC is in the process of negotiating                
architectural and engineering work, as well as modifications that              
will be completed with funds appropriated by the Legislature last              
year.  DOA supports SB 246 and believes it is important to                     
responsibly decommission the facility, otherwise it will have to               
manage a "mothballed" facility and eventually dispose of the                   
LARRY STREIBER, Division of Administrative Services, Department of             
Health and Social Services (DHSS), explained three years ago the               
decision was made to close Harborview, a state institution for the             
developmentally disabled. Residents were moved out into community              
settings.  The Harborview facility is an asset so to protect it,               
DHSS implemented an asset protection plan.  DHSS divided the                   
operation of the building up into logical units, reduced the energy            
requirements necessary to keep the building functioning but not                
operating at full capacity, and retained one maintenance person.               
Additionally, the Valdez Community Hospital continues to occupy a              
portion of that facility.  If the facility is not transferred to               
the City of Valdez, the building will remain a state responsibility            
that DHSS estimates will cost $260,000 per year to maintain in the             
asset protection mode.  DHSS strongly supports SB 246.                         
CHAIRMAN WILKEN noted Senator Leman joined the committee.                      
Number 186                                                                     
DAVE DENGEL, manager of the City of Valdez, made the following                 
statements via teleconference.  Approximately three years ago when             
it became evident that Harborview Development Center was going to              
close, the City of Valdez formed a task force to look for                      
alternative uses of the facility.  The community hospital is an                
integral part of the Harborview facility therefore it was very                 
important that alternative uses of the facility be found so the                
hospital could continue to operate.  The task force identified                 
several potential uses and through the process of elimination                  
decided the best use to be a drug and alcohol treatment center.                
The City of Valdez has been working with DOC for the last year to              
fine tune this project and is very supportive of DOC's efforts to              
develop its therapeutic treatment program.  The therapeutic                    
treatment center concept provides the best fit for the facility,               
community, and the state. The treatment facility will create                   
approximately 40 new jobs and will enable the community hospital to            
continue to operate.  It will also provide additional revenue                  
sources for the hospital.  The Valdez City Council recently                    
approved an interim agreement with the state to begin the transfer             
of the facility to the City.  The City will lease a portion of the             
facility back to DOC for the space it needs to operate the                     
treatment center.  The City will also work indirectly to provide               
dietary, medical, and other needs for the inmates.  He thanked                 
Commissioner Pugh and her staff, as well as other state agency                 
staff, who worked with the City to identify alternative uses for               
this facility.  He stated this project is truly a partnership                  
between the City and the State.  He encourage the committee to move            
SB 246 forward.                                                                
Number 218                                                                     
SENATOR WARD indicated he highlighted parts of the Court Monitor's             
Report and asked Ms. Robson to respond to the highlighted sections.            
He maintained that he voted for Harborview last year and supports              
the concept, but questioned how this will fit in with a total                  
Corrections' package.                                                          
MS. ROBSON noted Senator Ward handed her a copy of the court                   
monitor's report addressed to Assistant Attorney General John                  
Bodick from John Hagar, Compliance Monitor.  The highlighted                   
section at the bottom of page 2 refers to meetings that occurred               
with the Population Group regarding the Valdez project.  She                   
thought there may have been a misunderstanding in the way this                 
discussion was presented.  She indicated she met with the                      
Population Group and informed it that DOC was considering a 60 bed             
center.  The possibility of increasing the number of beds was                  
discussed but was not feasible for a number of reasons.  She noted             
on page three, Mr. Hagar makes reference to the treatment facility             
as not being a short term solution for population management, nor              
would it be a long term solution because DOC will have to renovate             
the facility before it can house inmates there.  DOC will also have            
to hire staff and have its treatment component on-line.                        
SENATOR WARD asked Ms. Robson to address his concern on the                    
following page.                                                                
MS. ROBSON said a section on the third page states that some                   
efforts, which were advertised as having an impact on crowding,                
i.e. Valdez and the Criminal Justice Assessment Commission, have               
not demonstrated the ability to reduce the hard beds at any time in            
the foreseeable future.  She supposed Mr. Hagar was looking at the             
short term which will not come on line tomorrow because of the                 
reasons she previously mentioned, but the project will have an                 
impact on the Corrections' population because it will provide an               
additional 60 beds.                                                            
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if SB 246 fits into a bigger plan for DOC.               
SENATOR WARD said he does not know that this does not fit into a               
bigger plan but he requested the committee hold the bill until the             
following week so that he could review that question.                          
Number 287                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA maintained that Harborview is a highly                   
underutilized facility and that SB 246 is the result of a long                 
process. He explained DHSS wanted to get out of housing the                    
developmentally disabled population in the way it has in the past.             
DOC is a growth industry and as a court order indicates, prison                
overcrowding must be addressed.  DOC has made it clear it does not             
want to use the entire facility because to be effective, a                     
"therapeutic community" must be kept small.  Two years ago the                 
Legislature appropriated $250,000 to determine the best use of the             
facility.  Last year, the budget contained $400,000 for the                    
Harborview facility if certain stipulations were met.  One                     
stipulation was that the cost come in by DOC within the statewide              
average of Corrections' facilities.  SB 246 has met that                       
stipulation.  The City of Valdez is prepared to spend $1 million               
over and above the legislative appropriation to do the capital                 
reconstruction necessary to house prisoners but it does not want to            
spend any money until it is assured the project has legislative                
support.  DOC indicated it would be ready to start the program                 
October 1, contingent upon the facility's readiness.                           
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA noted that regarding DOC's long term plan,               
it has no real program for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.                    
Everyone agrees this program is necessary so the question was will             
Harborview serve the purpose at a reasonable cost. Money has                   
already been spent on this project and funds are included in the               
Governor's operating budget for it.  A separate bill was drafted               
for this project because DOC wanted to get the project going as                
soon as possible and because the definition of "correctional                   
facility" needed to be changed to include a therapeutic treatment              
center."  REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA cautioned committee members that if            
that facility is left vacant, the operating costs to heat the                  
building will remain, and the Valdez hospital will not be able to              
continue to function.                                                          
Number 350                                                                     
SENATOR LINCOLN remarked that to answer Senator Ward's question                
about how this project fits into the overall DOC plan, this                    
facility will provide over 50 beds and over 90 percent of offenses             
are alcohol or drug related.  Many prisoners are not treated for               
drug and alcohol problems and the recidivism rate is high. Placing             
prisoners in the Valdez facility will free up beds in other                    
institutions.  She noted on Monday, pending referral of SB 246 to              
the Senate Finance Committee, experts on the therapeutic community             
will be testifying before that committee.  She repeated this                   
program will tie into the overall plan by increasing the number of             
beds in the system, and breaking the cycle of recidivism.                      
SENATOR WARD informed committee members that as Chair of the                   
Finance subcommittee on the Department of Corrections, he has had              
a lot of contact with DOC staff on this issue.  He stated the                  
people of Valdez have gone above and beyond to participate in this             
project.  There is no state match for this project.  He repeated               
that he supports the concept but is not prepared to act on this                
legislation until he can piece it together with the total DOC                  
financial package.  He repeated his request that the committee hold            
the bill until Wednesday, March 4.  He noted he is aware the City              
of Valdez needs direction from the Legislature as early as                     
Number 433                                                                     
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated he understands the time constraints on this             
bill, so will tentatively schedule the bill on Wednesday or the                
following Monday.                                                              
SENATOR GREEN questioned the explanation on the fiscal note that               
says all funds necessary to complete improvements are with either              
the City of Valdez or the Department of Corrections.                           
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA  explained the Legislature appropriated                  
$250,000 to the City of Valdez two years ago and $400,000 to the               
Department of Corrections last year for engineering work.  The City            
of Valdez plans to contribute $1 million for renovation.                       
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether those funds have already been                 
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA said he thought the $250,000 has been                    
SENATOR WARD explained the City of Valdez voluntarily chose to use             
its money on this project.                                                     
SENATOR GREEN questioned which appropriations the language on page             
2, line 12 refers to.                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA clarified that refers to the money already               
appropriated that he just spoke about.                                         
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether SB 246 is reliant upon a major                
appropriation this year.                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA said not for the construction part.                      
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether there are other facilities in the             
state that are stand alone, meaning the only type of prisoners                 
housed in that facility are undergoing specialized treatment.                  
MS. ROBSON responded the female population from the Meadow Creek               
facility was transferred into the Highland Mountain facility                   
because the counts had become so large.  The sex offender program              
was moved from the Highland Mountain program to Meadow Creek.                  
Meadow Creek is not entirely a stand alone program for sex                     
offenders; it is reliant upon some of the general core services                
provided at Highland Mountain.                                                 
SENATOR GREEN questioned whether that is a preferred method.  MS.              
ROBSON replied isolating populations is preferable when cases                  
require 24 hour per day treatment.  These prisoners are not only               
dealing with issues of addiction, but also with issues of criminal             
behavior.  When this population is mixed with the general prison               
population, the effects of treatment are diluted and the mix can be            
SENATOR GREEN asked whether the location of the Valdez facility,               
and the resulting transportation costs, will deter a judge from                
ordering prisoners to it.  MS. ROBSON said she did not think so                
because courts might order specific treatments for criminals                   
entering the prison system but DOC decides where the prisoner will             
be placed.                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked if placement is made by an internal decision               
rather than by the court.  MS. ROBSON replied both could occur.                
The court could order an individual to engage in treatment.  DOC               
would then evaluate that individual and determine what level of                
treatment he/she needs and where the treatment should take place.              
There being no further business to come before the committee,                  
CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at 9:40 a.m.                             

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