Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/07/1996 01:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SB 242 USE OF FIREARM IN COMMISSION OF FELONY                        
 KEN ERICKSON, aide to Senator Pearce, read a sponsor statement to             
 committee members.   SB 242 increases the penalty a criminal                  
 receives for committing a felony with a firearm.  Currently                   
 Alaska's felony sentencing statutes give judges sentencing                    
 guidelines for specific crimes.  This bill increases some of the              
 presumptive sentence guidelines for crimes committed with guns.               
 Inmates would still get time-off for good behavior.  The bill does            
 not affect misdemeanors, and would only effect acts committed after           
 the effective date.  SB 242 sends the message that offenses                   
 committed with firearms will carry a longer mandatory jail                    
 Number 236                                                                    
 SENATOR ADAMS asked if the sentencing commission has had a chance             
 to review SB 242.  MR. ERICKSON replied the commission has not                
 reviewed the bill yet.  SENATOR ADAMS asked if the Departments of             
 Law or Corrections had submitted position papers.  SENATOR TAYLOR             
 notified committee members a fiscal note has been received from the           
 Department of Law, the fiscal note from the Department of                     
 Corrections will be prepared by Monday, and the Department of Law             
 has sent a representative to testify.                                         
 ANNE CARPENETI, representing the Department of Law, informed                  
 committee members the department has not had sufficient time to               
 analyze SB 242 to take a position on the measure.  She noted the              
 sentencing increases are not guidelines, but are presumptive terms            
 which the court must follow.                                                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if SB 242 upgrades the current law that                  
 governs the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.  MS.               
 CARPENETI responded that under current law, specific offenses, such           
 as sexual assault in the first degree or sexual abuse of a minor,             
 carry presumptive sentences for first offenses, and the sentence is           
 lengthened if a firearm is used.  SB 242 increases the presumptive            
 term for the first offense.                                                   
 SENATOR ADAMS questioned whether a person with a concealed weapon             
 permit would receive a lesser sentence than a person without a                
 permit.  MS. CARPENETI clarified that the bill addresses a firearm            
 used in the commission of an offense, therefore if no offense was             
 committed, the issue of a permit would be moot.  SENATOR TAYLOR               
 felt the permit issue would probably not make a difference under              
 this sentencing structure if an offense was committed.                        
 Number 300                                                                    
 JOHN SALEMI, representing the Public Defender Agency, discussed two           
 issues.  Mr. Erickson stated that SB 242 would send a strong                  
 message about the seriousness of committing a crime with a firearm:           
 he does not believe those messages are received by people whose               
 behaviors are often anti-social and irrational.  Many people who              
 engage in criminal conduct do not think through the consequences,             
 or may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.   He felt the              
 analogy to the deterrent effect of stronger DWI laws to be                    
 inaccurate.  Presumptive sentencing in itself has been an                     
 enhancement in the overall sentencing scheme in the State of                  
 Alaska, yet it appears to have a disproportionate impact on rural             
 Alaska, especially Native Alaskans.  He noted the sentencing                  
 commission has not been in existence for three years.  He added the           
 Public Defender Agency has proposed a zero fiscal impact with                 
 respect to SB 242, only because it cannot quantify what the impact            
 will be.  In his experience, when sentences are increased for a               
 particular crime, individuals exercise their right to trial as                
 opposed to entering a no contest or guilty plea.                              
 SENATOR TAYLOR announced the committee would take SB 242 under                
 consideration and would reschedule it in the near future.  Senator            
 Miller arrived at 1:55 p.m.                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects