Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/20/2001 02:05 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
The committee took up SB 178.                                                                                                   
              SB 178-DETENTION OF DELINQUENT MINORS                                                                         
HOLLY  MORRIS, staff  to Senator  Therriault, sponsor  of SB  178,                                                              
explained  that  SB  178  incorporates  language  from  a  federal                                                              
regulation into Alaska statute to  optimize funding opportunities.                                                              
The new statutory language will allow  a juvenile to be held in an                                                              
adult facility for 24 hours if a  court hearing takes place within                                                              
that time.  There are two exceptions  to the 24 hour limit: in the                                                              
case of adverse  weather and if moving the juvenile  to a juvenile                                                              
facility  would   endanger  the  juvenile.    The   48-hour  limit                                                              
currently in  statute is  still an option  with the exceptions  in                                                              
the regulation.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR WARD asked why the change is needed.                                                                                    
MS.  MORRIS explained  the change  will  bring Alaska's  statutory                                                              
language  into compliance  with federal  regulations.   Compliance                                                              
will  enhance the  state's ability  to maintain  and gain  federal                                                              
funding.   However, state  officials will be  able to  continue to                                                              
hold juveniles  in an adult facility  for 48 hours if that  is the                                                              
safest  option.    The  change appears  to  reduce  the  hours  of                                                              
detention in  an adult facility,  but with the  exceptions listed,                                                              
juveniles can be held for 48 hours.                                                                                             
SENATOR  WARD  asked which  programs  will  now qualify  with  the                                                              
statutory change.                                                                                                               
MR. ROBERT BUTTCANE,  Division of Juvenile Justice,  Department of                                                              
Health  and  Social  Services,  informed  committee  members  that                                                              
federal formula  funds currently  fund programs such  as attendant                                                              
care shelters,  electronic monitoring,  mentoring programs,  youth                                                              
courts,  and   elders  courts.  Those  programs   are  alternative                                                              
detention  programs   for  juveniles   who  do  not   need  secure                                                              
confinement after they have been  arrested.  By enacting a 24-hour                                                              
arraignment  provision in  Alaska  statute for  juveniles held  in                                                              
adult  jails, the  state  will preserve  an  opportunity to  claim                                                              
exceptions  to certain time  thresholds that  Alaska does  not now                                                              
because state law contains a 48-hour  limit.  He pointed out there                                                              
are six  youth facilities  around  the state,  but there are  more                                                              
than 250 communities that occasionally  arrest a juvenile offender                                                              
and need to hold that offender.                                                                                                 
MR. BUTTCANE  said under federal  law, a juvenile offender  can be                                                              
held in an  adult jail for up  to six hours without  incurring any                                                              
kind of federal  violation.  After six hours,  federal funding can                                                              
be  jeopardized.   Because  of  Alaska's expansive  geography  and                                                              
limited transportation  infrastructure, it is impossible  at times                                                              
to move a juvenile who has been arrested  from a village jail to a                                                              
juvenile facility within the six hour time frame.                                                                               
Enacting a 24-hour arraignment will  allow state officials to do a                                                              
couple of things.   The juvenile will be brought  before the court                                                              
within 24  hours so that judicial  review will take place  to make                                                              
sure the  juvenile is  being treated  properly.   Second, it  will                                                              
give  state officials  access  to the  exceptions  that allow  the                                                              
juvenile  to  be  held in  an  adult  jail  until  it is  safe  to                                                              
transport  that individual.    It  is a  practice  that now  takes                                                              
place:  juveniles are  not held  in  adult jails  any longer  than                                                              
absolutely  necessary.    SB  178  will  provide  a  mechanism  to                                                              
continue current  practices and  preserve Alaska's entitlement  to                                                              
federal funds.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  WARD  asked  how  many   juveniles  were  held  in  adult                                                              
facilities last year.                                                                                                           
MR.  BUTTCANE   informed  committee   members  that  a   chart  of                                                              
statistics  was placed  in members'  packets.   According to  that                                                              
chart, 223  juveniles were held  in adult facilities  for anywhere                                                              
from 1 to 28 hours.                                                                                                             
SENATOR WARD asked for elaboration on electronic monitoring.                                                                    
MR.  BUTTCANE  said  the  threshold  is six  hours  but  with  the                                                              
exceptions the time  period can be extended for  periods necessary                                                              
to ensure safe  transportation.  For example, a  juvenile could be                                                              
held  for six  hours or  until the  storm  passes.   A penalty  is                                                              
assessed  for any  violations  and funds  are  withdrawn from  the                                                              
federal grant  program.  Withdrawal  of funds impacts  the state's                                                              
ability  to   designate  use  of   those  funds   like  electronic                                                              
monitoring, alternative care shelters or youth corps.                                                                           
SENATOR WARD asked if it is a bigger pot.                                                                                       
MR. BUTTCANE  said it  is a much  bigger pot and  it has  a domino                                                              
SENATOR WARD  asked how much money  was lost last year  because of                                                              
MR. BUTTCANE  said the  state has  not lost any  money yet.   Last                                                              
year, Senator Stevens was able to  enact exemption for Alaska that                                                              
will expire in 2002.                                                                                                            
Number 1417                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  WARD asked  how much the  state would  have lost  without                                                              
that exemption.                                                                                                                 
MR. BUTTCANE  said last  year the state  would have lost  $168,000                                                              
out of  about $672,000.   He added that  not only would  the state                                                              
lose $168,000,  it would  have to  dedicate all  of the  remaining                                                              
$500,000  to correct  the problem  of holding  juveniles in  adult                                                              
jails longer than six hours.  He  surmised that would be a problem                                                              
because  of  the  high  costs  associated  with  a  transportation                                                              
infrastructure  or   establishing  juvenile  facilities   in  each                                                              
community.   He pointed out the  violations are associated  with a                                                              
very small number of juveniles.                                                                                                 
With no  further questions or  discussion, SENATOR DAVIS  moved SB
178 from  committee with individual  recommendations and  its zero                                                              
fiscal note.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                     

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