Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/01/2015 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY
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SB 82-ALCOHOL/SUBST ABUSE PROGRAM MITIGATION 2:33:05 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of SB 82. "An Act relating to mitigating factors at sentencing." 2:33:31 PM GENEVIEVE WOJTUSIK, Staff, Senator McGuire, introduced SB 82 on behalf of the sponsor. She explained that the bill allows a judge to consider participation in the 24/7 sobriety program as a mitigating factor at the time of sentencing. She highlighted that this program is very cost effective at less than $30 per day, whereas it costs over $140 per day to house an inmate. The bill has zero fiscal notes from the Alaska Court System and the Department of Health and Social Services. 2:35:05 PM BILL MICKELSON, Consultant, 24/7 Sobriety Program, South Dakota, testified in support of SB 82. He explained that he developed and implemented the 24/7 program in South Dakota had it's been operating successfully for about 11 years. He currently is overseeing implementation in other states and has visited Alaska several times to discuss implementation. The 24/7 program brings discipline and SB 82 provides a reward for successful participation in the program. CHAIR MCGUIRE observed that it makes sense to give a judge the opportunity to consider participation in the program as a mitigating factor. It's a savings to the state, communities, and families. 2:37:43 PM DENNIS JOHNSON, Director, Alaska Pretrial Services, testified in support of SB 82. He described the 24/7 program as revolutionary to pretrial and the criminal justice system. He shared a story to illustrate why SB 82 is so important. A young man who entered the 24/7 program as he awaited sentencing found housing and held down a fulltime job while meeting the twice daily testing regime plus three random tests each week. He did this successfully for almost five months. At sentencing he took ownership for what he'd done and told the judge what he'd accomplished while he was out of custody. Because there was no way for the judge to give him credit for what he'd done, he was sentenced to 90 days incarceration. He lost his job. MR. JOHNSON said we're asking people to change their behavior and when they do they aren't given credit. This flies in the face of the efforts to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in prison and decrease the need to build another prison. He pointed out the success of the 24/7 program in Anchorage. There have been just three alcohol fails in 6,544 tests and two drug fails in 791 tests. He encouraged the members to pass the bill. CHAIR MCGUIRE thanked Mr. Johnson for the work he does. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI expressed appreciation and support for the work that Mr. Johnson has done for the Anchorage community. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked Mr. Piper if the Department of Health and Social Services had taken a position on SB 82. 2:44:26 PM TONY PIPER, Social Services Program Coordinator, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), said he didn't know if the department had taken a stand on the bill but they do believe that the program is working. He echoed Mr. Johnson's testimony that people on the 24/7 program invest effort to be successful in the program and it seems logical that they should receive benefit at sentencing. 2:45:19 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE found no further testifiers and closed public testimony. 2:45:36 PM SENATOR COGHILL motioned to report SB 82 from committee with individual recommendations and two zero fiscal notes. CHAIR MCGUIRE announced that without objection, SB 82 is reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.