Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/17/2014 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Confirmations: TELECONFERENCED
Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar
William Granger
Commission of Judicial Conduct
Marc June
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSSB 187(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
           SB 170-AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO PROSTITUTION                                                                       
1:58:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COGHILL announced  the consideration  of SB  170, "An  Act                                                               
relating to  a defense to  the crime of prostitution  for victims                                                               
of sex trafficking." This was the first hearing on the bill.                                                                    
1:58:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BERTA GARDNER, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
sponsor  of SB  170,  directed  attention to  an  article in  the                                                               
packets  from  KTUU. It  talks  about  the case/story  of  Keyana                                                               
Marshall, who  at 15 started  babysitting for a woman  who turned                                                               
out  to  be  a  madam,  and was  sucked  into  prostitution.  Ms.                                                               
Marshall said  when she got out  of the "trade" she  was mistaken                                                               
by  law   enforcement  as  someone   who  willingly   engaged  in                                                               
prostitution and, as  a result, spent time in prison.  She is now                                                               
a  member  of  a  group called  "Sex  Trafficking  Alaska"  whose                                                               
members say,  "The state's prostitution laws  are punishing women                                                               
who are forced into the sex trade."                                                                                             
SENATOR GARDNER  reported that  Alaska Attorney  General Geraghty                                                               
said  a  change  in  prostitution laws  is  not  necessarily  the                                                               
solution. He says, "Victims need  to take a courageous first step                                                               
and help  them untangle  the web  of commercial  sex trafficking.                                                               
They have  to agree to  cooperate - we  have to get  their trust.                                                               
They have to  come forward, testify, cooperate with  us in trying                                                               
to get the traffickers." She advised  that SB 170 gives victims a                                                               
reason to trust law enforcement  and gives law enforcement a tool                                                               
to garner information about traffickers.                                                                                        
2:00:41 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE HANDY,  Intern, Senator Berta  Gardner, introduced  SB 170,                                                               
on  behalf of  the sponsor.  He  spoke to  the following  sponsor                                                               
statement: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                     
     This  bill  directs  the  court  system  to  accept  an                                                                    
     affirmative defense in the crime  of prostitution, if a                                                                    
     person  can   prove  they  were   the  victim   of  sex                                                                    
     trafficking  at the  time of  the prostitution  charge.                                                                    
     Currently,  in  Alaska, anti-sex  trafficking  statutes                                                                    
     may ensnare  those who have been  trafficked, resulting                                                                    
     in  the  arrests and  prosecution  of  those who  were,                                                                    
     themselves, victims of sex  trafficking. This creates a                                                                    
     system  of re-victimization;  a prostitute  forced into                                                                    
     sex work  can be  subjected to arrest,  prosecution and                                                                    
     the hardships and stigmas of conviction.                                                                                   
     SB  170  will  not  only provide  protection  from  the                                                                    
     double victimization  explained above but it  will also                                                                    
     help  to  expose  the  extent  of  sex  trafficking  in                                                                    
     Alaska. According  to the FBI  in Anchorage,  seven sex                                                                    
     trafficking  cases have  resulted in  105 arrests.  But                                                                    
     these  are not  complete  numbers.  Prostitutes do  not                                                                    
     call  law enforcement  or other  emergency services  to                                                                    
     report  victimization   out  of  fear  of   arrest  and                                                                    
     conviction. This  set of circumstances not  only denies                                                                    
     people  access  to  basic and  necessary  services;  it                                                                    
     renders sex  trafficking and prostitution in  the state                                                                    
     extremely difficult to address or measure.                                                                                 
     As  supporting  documentation indicates,  other  states                                                                    
     are  recognizing the  irrationality  and unfairness  of                                                                    
     such  a system.  This bill  will refine  Alaska law  to                                                                    
     differentiate between  a victim of sex  trafficking and                                                                    
     a person  willfully committing a crime,  and thus begin                                                                    
     the  process  of   rehabilitation  of  sex  trafficking                                                                    
     victims  forced into  prostitution.  Federal and  state                                                                    
     law enforcement and public  policy experts contacted in                                                                    
     the research  phase of this bill  summarily welcomed SB
     170 as appropriate and timely.                                                                                             
     The Alaska Department of Law  has reviewed the bill and                                                                    
     supports its intent and language.  I hope you will join                                                                    
     them, the  co-sponsors, and this  office in  support of                                                                    
     this important bill.                                                                                                       
2:05:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
2:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBIN RICHARDSON, Urban Justice Center, New York City, New York,                                                                
summarized her history as an experienced anti-trafficking                                                                       
advocate and  concerned Alaskan.  She pointed out  needed changes                                                               
to the  bill. She suggested expanding  the language of SB  170 to                                                               
create  a  remedy  for  victims  at any  stage  of  the  criminal                                                               
process,   including    post-conviction,   and    repairing   the                                                               
relationship   with  law   enforcement  by   providing  screening                                                               
training  for  law enforcement  that  is  led by  survivors.  She                                                               
thanked the committee for helping  Alaska to potentially become a                                                               
leader in eradicating human trafficking.                                                                                        
2:11:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON noted  that the statute says a person  is guilty of                                                               
sex trafficking  if they  induce someone  through the  use force.                                                               
His understanding is that getting  a person addicted to heroin or                                                               
some other drug  has been the means of  forcing the prostitution.                                                               
He asked that should be included as a positive defense.                                                                         
MS. RICHARDSON offered her belief  that trafficking in Alaska has                                                               
removed the elements  of force, fraud, or coercion.  In Alaska, a                                                               
person could  be guilty of  sex trafficking in the  fourth degree                                                               
for facilitating prostitution.                                                                                                  
CHAIR COGHILL  affirmed that the  statute was amended  last year.                                                               
He  suggested  that the  Department  of  Law could  review  those                                                               
changes for the committee.                                                                                                      
2:13:17 PM                                                                                                                    
JESSICA EMERSON,  Staff, Equal Justice Works  Fellow, Women's Law                                                               
Center of Maryland,  Towson, Maryland, stated that  she's been an                                                               
anti-trafficking advocate  for ten years. She  voiced support for                                                               
the intent of SB 170 and  offered recommendations to make it more                                                               
comprehensive and  responsive to  the experiences of  the victims                                                               
of sex trafficking.                                                                                                             
First, the bill should be  expanded to allow previous convictions                                                               
to be  vacated once the victim  is able to come  forward, because                                                               
victims  often are  arrested multiple  times  before they  reveal                                                               
their victimization. This  would serve as an  incentive to report                                                               
to law enforcement.                                                                                                             
Second,  the  affirmative  defense   should  not  be  limited  to                                                               
prostitution offenses  only, as it  does not reflect  the reality                                                               
of  the trafficker's  influence and  control over  their victims.                                                               
Traffickers  routinely force  or  manipulate  their victims  into                                                               
committing a range of crimes.                                                                                                   
Finally,  SB  170 should  expressly  permit  the introduction  of                                                               
exigent evidence  by armed service  providers or  other advocates                                                               
as  evidence  of  a  person's   victimization.  Evidence  from  a                                                               
governmental organization should  create a rebuttable presumption                                                               
that the victim  is eligible for such relief.  Placing the burden                                                               
on  the victim  ignores  the reality  that  most sex  trafficking                                                               
victims are too  scared, ashamed, or traumatized  to report their                                                               
victimization.  Others  are  unaware  that they  are  victims  of                                                               
trafficking  and have  been manipulated  by their  traffickers to                                                               
believe that they are deserving of such criminalization.                                                                        
2:17:10 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  VENTGEN, representing  himself, Anchorage,  Alaska, said                                                               
he's a  mental health  clinician who  commends SB  170 as  a good                                                               
start.  He   agreed  with  the   suggested  changes   that  Robin                                                               
Richardson   offered.  He   offered  his   experience  that   sex                                                               
traffickers  often  are  people  the victim  already  knows.  The                                                               
grooming techniques  can be  very subtle and  stretch out  over a                                                               
number  of years.  By the  time the  sex trafficking  starts, the                                                               
individuals have  been doing prostitution  for a long  time. They                                                               
are victims and  SB 170 is a first step  to not revictimize these                                                               
2:20:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MAXINE DOOGAN,  Community United  for Safety and  Protection, San                                                               
Francisco,  California, offered  suggestions to  improve SB  170.                                                               
The first  is to remove  the burden  on victims who  must qualify                                                               
their status when they find  themselves a defendant in a criminal                                                               
proceeding.   Another  improvement   is   to   ensure  that   sex                                                               
trafficking  victims' prior  convictions  are  vacated once  they                                                               
decide to come  forward. Finally, a provision should  be added to                                                               
protect the identity of sex  trafficking victims or those alleged                                                               
to  be  in  prostitution  to reduce  the  likelihood  of  further                                                               
harassment or discrimination.                                                                                                   
LAEL MORGAN, representing herself,  Anchorage, Alaska, offered to                                                               
answer  questions related  to SB  170. She  advised that  she had                                                               
authored  books  on  prostitution during  the  Alaska-Yukon  Gold                                                               
2:23:00 PM                                                                                                                    
TARA RUPANI, Member, Community United  for Safety and Protection,                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska, said she was  a trafficking victim as a child.                                                               
She advised  that she made a  public records request for  all the                                                               
charges related to sex trafficking  and prostitution in 2012-2013                                                               
and learned that only alleged  prostitutes have been charged with                                                               
sex trafficking  and the alleged  victims have been  arrested and                                                               
charged with  prostitution. The trafficking  law that  was passed                                                               
in 2012  has only been used  against vulnerable women in  the sex                                                               
industry and never to help them.                                                                                                
MS. RUPANI  discussed the marked  differences in the  language in                                                               
SB  170  and  the  sex  trafficking  law,  and  the  difficulties                                                               
associated  with  gaining employment  or  stable  housing with  a                                                               
criminal  record  of  sex trafficking.  She  cited  examples  and                                                               
suggested   that  all   the  convictions   related  to   being  a                                                               
trafficking victim  should be removed  from CourtView.  This will                                                               
help these victims become productive members of society.                                                                        
She said the bill formalizes  what appears to be current practice                                                               
which is that  the police generally choose not  to charge victims                                                               
who cooperate with their demands.  However, the process of making                                                               
access  to  services and  treatment  as  a victim  contingent  on                                                               
cooperating with  law enforcement, which may  include testifying,                                                               
re-traumatizes the  victim and violates  their human  rights. She                                                               
offered  her  belief  that  Alaskans   want  all  victims  to  be                                                               
protected,  not   just  those  who   win  the  approval   of  law                                                               
enforcement. She concluded saying  that Alaskans are dependent on                                                               
legislators to stop the revictimization of victims.                                                                             
2:30:29 PM                                                                                                                    
DIANA BLINE,  Director, Program Services, Covenant  House Alaska,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  reviewed the array of  services that Covenant                                                               
House  offers  homeless  and  at-risk   youths  ages  13-20.  She                                                               
discussed  staff training  and  advised that  over a  three-month                                                               
period  last fall,  27  young people  were  identified as  active                                                               
victims of sex  trafficking. A young victim  is revictimized once                                                               
they  are  arrested;  they  face   legal  sanctions  and  have  a                                                               
permanent  record. This  limits  their  future opportunities  and                                                               
makes it  more difficult  to leave the  life of  prostitution. On                                                               
behalf  of Covenant  House,  she stated  strong  support for  the                                                               
intent of SB 170.                                                                                                               
2:32:40 PM                                                                                                                    
KAYT  SUNWOOD, representing  herself,  Fairbanks, Alaska,  stated                                                               
that while  SB 170 is  an appreciated step toward  addressing sex                                                               
trafficking in Alaska, some aspects  should be expanded to ensure                                                               
the  intent  is  realized.  First,   it  is  essential  that  sex                                                               
trafficking  victims   and  potential  victims'   identities  are                                                               
protected. Law enforcement should  receive proper training, there                                                               
should be  a safety  net for  cooperating survivors,  and limited                                                               
immunity should  be provided  for those  who report  incidents of                                                               
human trafficking.                                                                                                              
2:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
JEAN RICHEY,  Ph.D., Professor,  University of  Alaska Fairbanks,                                                               
said her  primary concern  is for social  justice for  victims of                                                               
sex  trafficking.  That includes  immunity  for  anyone making  a                                                               
report  of sex  trafficking  and protection  of  the victim.  She                                                               
commended Senator  Gardner for introducing  SB 170  and expressed                                                               
hope that the language would be made stronger.                                                                                  
2:35:35 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID POPPE,  representing himself, Nenana, Alaska,  advised that                                                               
working as an  emergency medical services (EMS)  provider, he has                                                               
noticed   that   patients   are   reticent   to   discuss   their                                                               
victimization  with  law  enforcement.  He  suggested  additional                                                               
training  so they  don't appear  so forceful  in cases  involving                                                               
prostitution. He also  expressed a desire for  more plain English                                                               
in the law.                                                                                                                     
2:37:39 PM                                                                                                                    
KEYANA MARSHALL, representing  herself, Fairbanks, Alaska, stated                                                               
that  she was  a  sex  trafficking victim  from  age  15 and  was                                                               
charged as a co-conspirator as  a result of being trafficked. She                                                               
described the  difficulties she's  had getting  a job  because of                                                               
her record, none  of which she did of her  own volition. She said                                                               
she  would  like the  bill  to  be  revised and  provide  greater                                                               
protections for victims.                                                                                                        
2:40:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  commented on the scope  of the bill and  asked the                                                               
sponsor if she had closing comments.                                                                                            
SENATOR  GARDNER said  she recognizes  that there  are many  more                                                               
things  that can  be  done, but  the decision  was  to present  a                                                               
simple bill and perhaps get it passed this year.                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  announced he  would hold SB  170 in  committee for                                                               
further consideration.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 187 Amendment.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 187
CSSB 176.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 176
Explanation of Changes - Version Y.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 176
Bar - Granger.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
Confirmation Hearing
Judicial Conduct - June.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
Confirmation Hearing
SB 201 - AS 11.46.350.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB 201 - ADN article.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB 201 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note LAW-CRIM.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note DOA-OPA.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note DOA-PDA.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note DOC.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note DPS.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB201- Fiscal Note DPS-DET.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 201
SB 176 - KUAC Article.pdf SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 176
Written Testimony #3.zip SJUD 3/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
SB 176