Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/03/1998 09:05 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
      SB 237 - COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT                      
SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute for             
SB 237.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                         
ANNETTE KREITZER, legislative aide to the Senate Labor and Commerce            
Committee, gave the following explanation of the committee                     
substitute for SB 237.  Sections 1, 2, and 3 amend court referrals,            
protective orders, and probation conditions so that batterers'                 
programs will meet the standards set by, and programs approved by,             
the Department of Corrections.  Section 4 amends the duties of the             
Department of Corrections to ensure that this program's standards              
are set by, and approved by, that department.  Section 5 extends               
the CDVSA by four years which is the maximum extension allowed                 
under AS 44.66. 010(c).  Section 6 amends Rule 404(b)(3) to ensure             
that if a defendant relies on a defense of consent, evidence of                
other sexual assaults is admissible.  Section 7 amends Rule                    
404(b)(4) to clarify for judges that evidence of prior acts of                 
domestic violence is not limited to convictions only.  This change             
will allow the prosecution to produce evidence of previous acts of             
domestic violence.  The court rule changes apply to proceedings on             
or after the immediate effective date of this act.  Section 9 takes            
effect January 1, 1999.  The state is mandated to have the programs            
in place and the standards set, with the expectation that anyone               
referred to a batterer's program after January 1, 1999 would be                
attending a state-approved program.  Section 10 provides for an                
immediate effective date for the rest of the sections in the bill.             
This language is also part of SB 316.  The sponsor is well aware               
that the language appears in other bills but he felt that state                
approval and funding of batterers' programs should be part of the              
CDVSA program.                                                                 
Number 196                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked whether any approval process for batterers'                
programs exists at this time.                                                  
MS. KREITZER said some standards have been established but no                  
mandate requiring the courts to refer offenders to state-certified             
programs exists.  Apparently a wide range of programs exists but               
only two are state approved.                                                   
JAYNE ANDREEN, Director of the CDVSA, explained the Domestic                   
Violence Act of 1996 included language to require courts to refer              
offenders to approved programs only, however, the courts have                  
interpreted that language much more broadly than what was intended.            
SB 316, and the language in SB 237, are attempts to tighten the                
language so that the courts will order offenders to state approved             
programs only.                                                                 
SENATOR GREEN asked if a timely process exists to provide for state            
approval of these programs.                                                    
MS. ANDREEN responded yes, it has taken awhile to establish a                  
process that people can follow through on, due in part to funding              
for actual monitoring of the programs, but an application process              
was established in August.  Two of 14 applications have been                   
submitted to CDVSA.  Two factors are delaying application                      
submission: one is that the incentive is low since courts are                  
already using the unapproved programs; and second, the Department              
of Corrections is in the process of revising its regulations.                  
Number 229                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked if the January 1, 1999 date is reasonable.                 
MS. ANDREEN said it is reasonable and that she initially suggested             
an effective date of October 1.                                                
MS. KREITZER added that she and staff from Senator Parnell's office            
are concurrently reviewing the regulations regarding the                       
implementation of state certified programs.  They will be tracking             
that process closely to see if problems occur, stemming from the               
way the regulations are written, that restrict organizations from              
Number 243                                                                     
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how Ms. Andreen expects the $116,000 in the              
budget for batterers' programs to be used.                                     
MS. ANDREEN replied this year CDVSA received $60,000 for a                     
batterers' programs grant which was awarded to Tongass Community               
Counseling Center.  CDVSA has already issued an RFP competitive                
grant proposal for programs to apply for funds.  CDVSA will be                 
following its standard granting procedure and will be making awards            
at the end of June for FY 99.                                                  
Number  251                                                                    
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if the amount for FY 99 will be $116,000.                
MS. ANDREEN said the total amount will be $166,000.                            
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked whether that money will be allocated by                  
region or by application.                                                      
MS. ANDREEN said the grants will be allocated by application.                  
CDVSA reviews each application on its own merits and makes the                 
decisions accordingly.                                                         
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if any regional consideration is given.                  
MS. ANDREEN said that is one of the criteria CDVSA looks at but                
more importantly, CDVSA wants to make sure it is funding the most              
effective services available.                                                  
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how long batterers' programs have been in                
MS. ANDREEN replied batterers' programs have been in place since               
the early 1980s.                                                               
Number 267                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked Ms. Andreen to speak to the ineffectiveness of             
batterers' programs.                                                           
MS. ANDREEN answered the effectiveness of batterers' programs and              
the question of whether or not they should be funded or subsidized             
with state funds is the subject of a nationwide controversy.  One              
problem with batterers' programs is the lack of a solid                        
understanding of how effective they are.  Studies have determined              
that no set criteria for defining effectiveness exists.  Most                  
studies only look at offenders' re-entry into the civil or criminal            
justice system.  Some studies have reported that when offenders                
attend batterers' programs, they simply become smarter offenders               
and learn how to avoid that system for the following 12 month                  
evaluation period.  The Center for Disease Control has funded a                
contract to do an intensive study of batterers' programs around the            
country.  The study is now in its third year and is being extended             
for two more years.  Those conducting the study are experiencing a             
high success rate in tracking offenders once they leave a program.             
They are not just checking criminal and civil records, they are                
also interviewing the offenders and interviewing past and current              
partners to get a broader scope.  This study is also comparing the             
effectiveness of different programs and the different modalities               
used.  She noted 40 to 60 percent of offenders who are referred to             
a program never attend so it is important to have a strong systemic            
response for those offenders.  She stated a success rate of about              
25 percent of all offenders ordered to a program seems to be a safe            
SENATOR GREEN asked what the current standard is for allowing a                
previous accusation, or anything other than a conviction, to be                
entered as evidence in a current case.                                         
MS. KREITZER responded that at present no standard exists and                  
judges are applying that information differently to different                  
Number 317                                                                     
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                 
informed committee members that under Section 7, for prior acts of             
domestic violence, courts generally allow introduction of the                  
evidence without a conviction.  She noted she spoke with John                  
Richards, a municipal attorney in Anchorage, who said the                      
Municipality of Anchorage is having great success in getting this              
evidence admitted.  A few judges are concerned that the use of the             
term "crimes involving domestic violence" requires a prior                     
conviction which is why this bill makes it clear that a prior                  
conviction is not required to allow the evidence to be admissible.             
SENATOR GREEN stated this section concerns her.  She asked what the            
bar would be to admit evidence of a prior act.                                 
MS. CARPENETI replied the court would only admit the evidence when             
indications exist that it is reliable.                                         
SENATOR GREEN questioned how that can be assured in statute since              
the bill says a previous act, not convictions, can be admitted.                
MS. CARPENETI explained the Evidence Rules require a court, before             
evidence is admitted, to be satisfied that the evidence is                     
Number 344                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked if the defendant would have the right to                   
respond and the right to counsel for the previous acts, or whether             
the evidence could be an accusation.                                           
MS. CARPENETI responded SCSSB 237 does not require that the                    
offender be charged with the previous act.  She added experts agree            
that victims are more likely to not pursue a prosecution for                   
complex reasons.  In many domestic violence cases, prosecutors have            
no victim.  Prosecutors rely on the testimony of police officers               
which often involves their observations.  She noted that is one                
reason that this type of evidence is extremely helpful.                        
MS. ANDREEN maintained that domestic violence is an ongoing cycle              
that increases in severity over a period of time.  She stated it is            
important to establish a pattern of behavior and that the case is              
not built on an isolated incident.  CDVSA is comfortable that the              
process the court goes through to determine whether evidence is                
reliable will ensure that this provision is not abused.                        
MS. CARPENETI added Rule 404(b) allows evidence of prior acts as               
they relate to various other charges, for example, in Section 6,               
Rule 404(b)(3) allows evidence of prior acts of sexual assault in              
certain circumstances when the charge is sexual assault or                     
attempted sexual assault.  The courts have been applying that rule             
without requiring a conviction for the use of the prior evidence as            
long as the court is assured that the evidence is accurate and                 
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated he would hold SCSSB 237(HESS) in committee,             
until the following Wednesday.  There being no further business to             
come before the committee, CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at            
9:30 a.m.                                                                      

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