Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/14/1994 01:35 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 CHANGED) and invited MEL KROGSENG, Staff Assistant to the sponsor,            
 REPRESENTATIVE RAMONA BARNES, to review the legislation.                      
 Number 249                                                                    
 MS. KROGSENG explained HCR 28 was introduced to relieve some of the           
 burden the Department of Corrections has encountered due to the               
 Cleary Final Settlement Agreement and Order, and she quoted from            
 the Position Paper:  "In the early 1980's, several inmates                    
 incarcerated in Alaska's correctional institutions sued the state             
 alleging that some if not all of the conditions of their                      
 confinement were unconstitutional.                                            
 Although the Superior Court found no conditions of confinement at             
 that time to be unconstitutional, it did find that the conditions             
  might  become unconstitutional at some future unspecified date.              
 Despite the fact that the plaintiffs failed to present any proof of           
 unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the court decided, and            
 in some cases the state agreed, to allow the court to dictate the             
 conditions of confinement either through the settlement agreements            
 of the court's orders and decisions.  This agreement required the             
 department to hire and pay for monitors (at no small cost) to                 
 ensure that the conditions of the agreement were being met.                   
 Since the time the lawsuit was first filed, any potential                     
 unconstitutional conditions have been rectified and continued court           
 intervention is unnecessary.  With the state's declining revenue              
 picture, we can no longer continue to provide more than is                    
 constitutionally required.                                                    
 HCR 28 urges the Governor to direct the Attorney General to take              
 whatever steps are necessary to dissolve or modify the Cleary               
 partial settlement agreements, court orders, and decisions in this            
 MS. KROGSENG presented a list of 12 simple items that are required            
 by Cleary to do, that are not constitutionally mandated.  She               
 explained the Department of Corrections thinks some of the items              
 should be done, but they should not be required by a court order to           
 do them.  She listed some of the items such as: gate money of $150            
 per prisoner, a Mental Health Forensic Unit separate from the state           
 psychiatric hospital, the purchase of eye glasses for prisoners who           
 have been incarcerated 15 days or longer, and she said they were              
 required to provide telephones.                                               
 MS. KROGSENG referred to page 29 of the settlement agreement and              
 directed the committee's attention to #5, "The department may not             
 monitor the telephone call of a pre-trial detainee, ..."  It was              
 pointed out by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the           
 floor debate monitoring could have prevented the Eagle River mail             
 bombing.  She explained many of the court orders are very costly              
 and some should be modified or eliminated, and she quoted JERRY               
 LUCKHAUPT, attorney for legislative legal counsel, as saying there            
 have been two recent Supreme Court decisions which have allowed               
 modification or dissolution based on declining state revenues.                
 Number 303                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE questioned the lawsuit method to be used to get the            
 conditions in the Cleary Settlement thrown out.                             
 MS. KROGSENG explained it wasn't a lawsuit, it was to ask the                 
 Attorney General to look at what it would take to modify or                   
 dissolve, but until it was decided what would be required, it would           
 be difficult to make a decision to modify or dissolve.                        
 MS. KROGSENG quoted a conversation with an inmate presently on                
 parole, who said corrections was broke, and was impacting Cleary.           
 He said there were few incentives or motivation in the system for             
 inmates to want to become responsible citizens.  He used the lack             
 inmate correctional industries as an example of what could be done            
 to promote a responsible attitude among the inmates.  She reviewed            
 other methods used in the federal prisons, as described by the                
 inmate, to bring about more responsible behavior.                             
 SENATOR LITTLE, in reference to one of the resolves which directs             
 the attorney general to dissolve or modify the partial settlement             
 agreements ..., asked what available means would be under taken.              
 MS. KROGSENG said she had no idea, and she reviewed the lack of               
 participation by the court in the original case.  She thought the             
 legislature agreed to too much that might have been curbed by the             
 Number 350                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY explained this was a revolving area of the law, and            
 he described some recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions as far as               
 changes to earlier decisions or agreements in this area.  He also             
 explained why he thought the resolution was well drafted.                     
 (GET CLEARY ORDERS DISSOLVED OR CHANGED) from committee with                  
 individual recommendations.  Without objections, so ordered.                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects