Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/23/1994 02:41 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 as the next order of business.                                                
 DAVID SKIDMORE, staff to prime sponsor of the legislation Senator             
 Steve Frank, related that in the past the Department of Corrections           
 has considered transferring inmates out of state.  Currently, the             
 department faces severe overcrowding pressures.                               
 Alaska statutes provide two different standards that must be met              
 before inmates may be transferred out of state.  The first standard           
 in AS 33.30.061(b) provides that the department "may transfer                 
 inmates out of state if rehabilitation or treatment of the inmate             
 will not be impaired.   The second standard in AS 33.36.010                   
 provides that the department may not transfer inmates out of state            
 if rehabilitation or treatment of the inmate will be better                   
 facilitated in Alaska.  SB 292 would resolve the two conflicting              
 standards by deleting the second standard and establishing the                
 first standard as the sole test which would have to be met.                   
 Mr. Skidmore noted there is no advocacy or funding association with           
 SB 292; it is simply clarifying statute to give the commissioner of           
 corrections this tool in dealing with overcrowding.                           
 Number 564                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked what effect this would have on the Cleary                
 Settlement if the facilities out of state don't have the same                 
 provisions that Alaska has.                                                   
 Number 570                                                                    
 MICHAEL STARK, Counsel to the Department of Corrections, pointed              
 out that under AS 33.30.031, the Department of Corrections has the            
 authority to transfer prisoners out of state.  There is also an               
 independent law, which is known as the Interstate Corrections                 
 Compact and is found in AS 33.36.010, which provides an independent           
 basis for transferring prisoners out of state.  Typically, the                
 Interstate Corrections Compact is used for transferring inmates               
 from a state facility to another state's correctional system.                 
 However, there are other correctional systems that are not state              
 systems, and AS 33.30.031 is broader authority for transferring               
 prisoners whenever there are not adequate state facilities.                   
 TAPE 94-23, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 558                                                                    
 Mr. Stark said the standard that is found in the Interstate                   
 Corrections Compact is a more difficult standard to meet and it is            
 subject to legal challenge.  The point of the bill is that there              
 should only be one standard, and it makes no sense to have a                  
 different standard just because the possible vehicle for                      
 transferring them might be the Interstate Compact.                            
 Mr. Stark pointed out that the statutes provide that wherever they            
 send inmates there has got to be a similar degree of care provided.           
 The terms of the Cleary Settlement, by their own terms, are                   
 restricted to inmates confined in the state in state-run                      
 facilities.  The specific provisions in that settlement don't apply           
 to inmates who are outside the state, however, they must be                   
 provided a similar degree of care.                                            
 Number 543                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR commented that, basically, this is just housekeeping           
 language.  MR. STARK agreed and said the inmates rights are still             
 protected by existing law in 33.30.061.                                       
 Number 527                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if the people who work in corrections have               
 taken a position on the bill.  MR. STARK answered that he didn't              
 know, but, to his knowledge, right now there is no plan for the               
 wholesale transfer of prisoners out of state.  However, there are             
 a number of crime bills before the Legislature and the correctional           
 system is overcrowded.  That resource to transfer them out exists             
 right now under existing law and this would simply clarify the                
 SENATOR DONLEY asked which collective bargaining unit represents              
 the people working in corrections.  DIANE SCHENKER, Special                   
 Assistant, Department of Corrections, answered that they are                  
 represented by ASEA and APEA.  Both of those unions have opposed              
 out-of-state transfers in the past, but the department has not been           
 contacted by its employees or either of the unions on SB 292.                 
 Number 492                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE pointed out that the whole upper floor in the                  
 Wildwood Prison Facility is empty and could be staffed and                    
 utilized.  She asked if there is any movement in the Legislature to           
 fund that facility fully in order to utilize that space.  MS.                 
 SCHENKER answered that there wasn't at this point.  The Governor              
 has requested funding and the department is pursuing every avenue             
 to get funding to open instate beds.  Also, the Governor's amended            
 budget request has also requested money to increase soft bed                  
 facilities for the misdemeanant population.  There is statutory               
 authority for the department to contract for any type of bed in or            
 out of state, but they are not necessarily available.                         
 SENATOR LITTLE stated that she is not willing at this time to fix             
 a statute that has do with sending prisoners outside of the state             
 when there is an existing facility like Wildwood that is not being            
 fully utilized.                                                               
 Number 425                                                                    
 There was no motion to move SB 292 out of committee.                          

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