Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/28/1994 01:37 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 JUD - 3/28/94                                                                 
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 1:37 p.m.  He brought  CSHB 195(FIN)  (AUTHORIZING YOUTH             
 COURTS) before the committee as the first order of business.                  
 PAULA TERREL, staff to Representative Joe Sitton who is prime                 
 sponsor of HB 195, explained the legislation is based on a Youth              
 Court Program, the only one in Alaska.  It is a diversion program             
 that has had a good success rate in Anchorage.  Minors who have               
 committed an offense, or allegedly committed a offense, can decide            
 to go into this diversion program if the juvenile intake of the               
 Department of Health & Social Services and their parents agree.               
 HB 195 will set up in statute the authority for youth court                   
 programs to take place.  It will also set up a grant program under            
 DCRA which will allow communities, whether urban or rural, to apply           
 for a $5,000 one time only grant that would have to be matched by             
 each nonprofit or community as seed money to start up the program.            
 She noted the bill is set up so that it would allow for maximum               
 flexibility depending on how the communities want to handle it.               
 Ms. Terrel pointed out that recidivism rate is very low in the                
 Anchorage program.                                                            
 Number 083                                                                    
 SENATOR HALFORD said the bill provides that the record be sealed,             
 but he wondered if the bill provides access to the record of                  
 disposition of a case to the victim of the offense, essentially for           
 a civil case, because the victim may want to sue the offender and             
 the parents for damages.  He added that he would be violently                 
 opposed to anything that weakens that right more than it already              
 JOHN ELY, an Anchorage lawyer and President of Anchorage Youth                
 Court testifying from Anchorage, said one the main things the                 
 Anchorage Youth Court tries to teach the defendant is the cost of             
 their crime.  Restitution is one of the main emphases that they               
 give out, along with community service.  Any property damage that's           
 done is almost always compensated for through restitution.                    
 However, there is difficulty in allowing civil proceedings to flow            
 from juvenile proceedings because of a strict confidentiality                 
 involved in all juvenile proceedings.  In youth court, there is one           
 added difficulty to allowing the information to go, and that is               
 that no actual conviction will show on the juvenile's record after            
 completing the youth court diversion program sentencing if they are           
 found guilty in youth court.                                                  
 Number 612                                                                    
 SENATOR HALFORD said he has no interest in a civil follow-up if, in           
 fact, there is restitution, but if the restitution isn't paid, then           
 we've just established a mechanism to protect the juvenile from               
 having to pay the bill for what he did.  MR. ELY answered that as             
 it stands now, it would still be very difficult to use the juvenile           
 criminal record in a civil proceeding.  SENATOR HALFORD noted that            
 legislation has passed the Senate that will make changes to                   
 juvenile waivers and juvenile information.  SENATOR TAYLOR said               
 that he would have staff make sure that the provisions incorporated           
 within the current SB 54 are in balance with the legislation before           
 the committee.  SENATOR HALFORD said that with that exception, he             
 has no problem with the legislation.                                          
 Number 186                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked who establishes guidelines that the                      
 prosecutors follow for youth court.  MR. ELY replied that they                
 prosecute under both state and municipal laws, depending on the               
 offense, the arresting officer's citing of the offense, etc.  The             
 guidelines for prosecution are established by the youth court bars            
 themselves and they are not extremely formal.  The prosecutors are            
 students themselves, and there are legal advisors to the youth                
 SENATOR DONLEY related that concern had been expressed to him by              
 several police officers that after arrests had been made, the                 
 officers weren't even requested to come in and testify, and that              
 nothing was done to the offenders.  MR. ELY said he was surprised,            
 and he would like to talk to Senator Donley further about the                 
 instances because there may be some misunderstandings.  He added              
 that they work as closely with law enforcement as they can.                   
 Number 260                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY also spoke to the public perception that a lot of              
 these juveniles are repeat offenders, that they commit these crimes           
 over and over again before they are formally adjudicated as                   
 delinquents, and even that system is not very effective as far as             
 the punishment being given.  MR. ELY clarified that the youth court           
 only deals with first time offenders.                                         
 Number 325                                                                    
 There being no further testimony on HB 195, SENATOR TAYLOR stated             
 the bill would be held in committee for further consideration.                

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