Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/18/2020 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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                 SB 137-EXTEND BOARD OF PAROLE                                                                              
3:31:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 137,                                                               
"An Act  extending the termination  date of the Board  of Parole;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
3:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PETER   MICCICHE,  Alaska  State   Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  sponsor of  SB 137,  stated that  he stepped  forward to                                                               
sponsor   this  board   extension  because   he  recognizes   the                                                               
importance of extending the Board of Parole.                                                                                    
3:32:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL WILLIS, Intern, Senator Peter Micciche, Alaska State                                                                    
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, introduced SB 137 paraphrasing the                                                                 
following sponsor statement:                                                                                                    
     SB 137 extends the Board  of Parole termination date of                                                                    
     June 30, 2020 until June 30, 2025.                                                                                         
     Upon  review of  the recent  Legislative Audit  summary                                                                    
     and  the  full audit  report  of  the Alaska  Board  of                                                                    
     Parole, it becomes apparent that  in the opinion of our                                                                    
     auditors, the  Board of Parole is  serving the public's                                                                    
     interest    by   effectively    evaluating   prisoners'                                                                    
     likelihood of  recidivism and whether a  prisoner poses                                                                    
     a threat to the public.                                                                                                    
     The  Board  of  Parole  serves  an  important  role  in                                                                    
     guarding  the  safety  of Alaskans  by  protecting  the                                                                    
     general  public through  the  determination of  parole-                                                                    
     eligible  prisoners'  ability   to  become  functioning                                                                    
     members of  society. The significance of  the board has                                                                    
     increased recently since the passage  of HB 49 in 2019.                                                                    
     Despite the repeal of SB  91, there has been a dramatic                                                                    
     increase in  the number of  parole applicants due  to a                                                                    
     requirement  that all  eligible  prisoners  be given  a                                                                    
     hearing  regardless of  their own  desire to  apply for                                                                    
     parole.  This  situation  has  strained  the  Board  of                                                                    
     Parole, but  it has also revealed  our state's reliance                                                                    
     on the work of the Board.                                                                                                  
     Auditors recommend  the Legislature extend  the board's                                                                    
     termination date five years,  which is three years less                                                                    
     than  the eight-year  maximum allowed  by statute.  The                                                                    
     reduced extension  allows for review of  recent changes                                                                    
     to  the board's  statutes,  impacts and  responsibility                                                                    
     revisions related to  HB 49 and the  need for continued                                                                    
     We   respectfully  request   your   support  for   this                                                                    
     important extension to the Alaska Board of Parole.                                                                         
He noted that  Kris Curtis and Jeffrey Edwards  were available to                                                               
testify and answer questions.                                                                                                   
CHAIR REVAK asked Ms. Curtis to review the audit results.                                                                       
3:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS, Legislative  Auditor,  Legislative Audit  Division,                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  reviewed the  sunset                                                               
audit for the Board of Parole.  She directed attention to the May                                                               
8, 2019 sunset  audit of the Department of  Corrections, Board of                                                               
Parole that may  be found in members' packets. She  noted that is                                                               
the  last date  of  any field  work so  any  changes to  statutes                                                               
governing  the board  after that  date are  not included  in this                                                               
audit.  She reminded  the members  that the  purpose of  a sunset                                                               
audit is  to determine whether  a board or commission  is serving                                                               
the public's interest and should be extended.                                                                                   
She directed  attention to  Exhibit 3  on page  2 that  depicts a                                                               
table of the Schedule of  Expenditures and Funding Sources for FY                                                               
16 through January  31, 2019. It shows that  the expenditures for                                                               
this  board were  primarily for  personal  services, travel,  and                                                               
office  rental  costs. She  pointed  out  the large  increase  in                                                               
expenditures starting  in FY  17 and  explained that  it reflects                                                               
the increase  in the board's  workload that resulted  when Senate                                                               
Bill 91  passed and  became effective in  January 2017.  Five new                                                               
positions  were  authorized  to   address  the  increase  in  the                                                               
workload. She noted that this is  discussed in more detail in the                                                               
Background Information section that begins on page 5.                                                                           
3:36:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. CURTIS  advised that  the first few  pages of  the Background                                                               
Information discuss the basics of  parole. She directed attention                                                               
to  the bottom  of  page  8 that  discusses  how  Senate Bill  91                                                               
changed parole  and how  that impacted the  Board of  Parole. She                                                               
summarized the changes as follows:                                                                                              
     Senate  Bill  91   significantly  changed  the  board's                                                                    
     statutes effective January 2017.                                                                                           
     First,  it   expanded  discretionary  parole   for  all                                                                    
     offenders   except   unclassified   or  class   A   sex                                                                    
     offenders.  Prior to  SB  91,  offenders who  committed                                                                    
     their first class B felony  or up to their second class                                                                    
     C felony  were eligible for discretionary  parole after                                                                    
     serving  25 percent  of their  sentences.  Post SB  91,                                                                    
     generally offenders  who committed any number  of A, B,                                                                    
     or C  felonies were  eligible for  discretionary parole                                                                    
     after serving a quarter of their sentences.                                                                                
     Secondly,  SB  91   removed  the  discretionary  parole                                                                    
     application  requirement.  Prior  to SB  91,  prisoners                                                                    
     initiated   the  parole   process   by  submitting   an                                                                    
     application for  parole and not all  eligible prisoners                                                                    
     submitted applications.  SB 91 removed  the application                                                                    
     requirement  from  state  law, which  changed  how  the                                                                    
     board approached discretionary parole hearings.                                                                            
     Thirdly,  SB  91  shortened  the  technical  revocation                                                                    
     hearing timeline.                                                                                                          
3:38:01 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CURTIS directed attention to the Report Conclusions on page                                                                 
11. She paraphrased the following excerpts:                                                                                     
     The  audit concluded  that the  board  responded in  an                                                                    
     effective and  efficient manner to  significant changes                                                                    
     in  parole laws.  During the  audit  period, the  board                                                                    
     conducted meetings,  made parole decisions,  set parole                                                                    
     conditions, and held  revocation hearings in accordance                                                                    
     with state law.                                                                                                            
     [In accordance  with AS  44.66.010(a)(2), the  board is                                                                    
     scheduled  to terminate  June 30,  2020.] We  recommend                                                                    
     the  legislature extend  the  board's termination  date                                                                    
     five years to June 30,  2025, which is three years less                                                                    
     than  the eight  year maximum  allowed for  in statute.                                                                    
     The reduced  extension is  mainly in  acknowledgment of                                                                    
     recent  changes  to the  board's  statutes  as well  as                                                                    
     anticipated   changes  and   the  need   for  continued                                                                    
3:38:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CURTIS  directed attention to  Exhibits 5, 6, and  7 starting                                                               
on  page  12.  These  tables show  the  significant  increase  in                                                               
discretionary parole  hearings in  2017 and  2018, the  number of                                                               
parole  hearing   no-shows  from  2015  through   2018,  and  the                                                               
revocation  parole   hearings  for   that  same   timeframe.  She                                                               
paraphrased the following Report Conclusions:                                                                                   
     The  increase  in  discretionary  parole  hearings,  as                                                                    
     shown in  Exhibit 5, included  a significant  number of                                                                    
     hearings that prisoners did  not attend (no-shows). No-                                                                    
     shows  were  the  result  of   SB  91  eliminating  the                                                                    
     discretionary parole application  process and mandating                                                                    
     that  hearings  be  held  for  all  eligible  prisoners                                                                    
     regardless of  whether a prisoner  wanted discretionary                                                                    
     parole.  According to  the board's  executive director,                                                                    
     prisoners  may   not  want  discretionary   parole  for                                                                    
     various reasons  including not  willing to  sign parole                                                                    
     conditions and/or  wanting to  complete a  sentence and                                                                    
     leave with no parole conditions.                                                                                           
     Initially,  parole  officers  and  the  board  compiled                                                                    
     parole packets  and held hearings  for no-shows  in the                                                                    
     same  manner as  conducted for  prisoners who  attended                                                                    
     the  hearings.  This  was  not   an  effective  use  of                                                                    
     resources  given  that  parole  is  not  granted  if  a                                                                    
     prisoner does not attend the  parole hearing. The board                                                                    
     recognized the inefficiency  and changed the procedures                                                                    
     in   November   2017.   The  new   procedures   require                                                                    
     institutional  parole  officers to  complete  condensed                                                                    
     parole  packets  (does  not include  release  plans  or                                                                    
     parole  conditions)  for  offenders that  do  not  want                                                                    
     discretionary   parole   and   the   board   holds   an                                                                    
     abbreviated hearing.  As shown  in Exhibit  6, no-shows                                                                    
     represented   21   percent  of   discretionary   parole                                                                    
     hearings in 2017 and 29 percent in 2018.                                                                                   
     According   to    board   staff,   the    increase   in                                                                    
     discretionary  parole  hearings  in   2017  led  to  an                                                                    
     increased number  of revocation  hearings in  2017 (see                                                                    
     Exhibit  7). This  increase in  workload was  offset in                                                                    
     2018  by  the use  of  an  administrative sanction  and                                                                    
     incentive  program   (AS  33.05.020(g))   that  allowed                                                                    
     probation  officers  to   impose  sanctions  without  a                                                                    
     hearing for the most  common technical violations based                                                                    
     on  a decision-making  guide created  by Department  of                                                                    
     Corrections management.                                                                                                    
     The  board  effectively  coped  with  the  increase  in                                                                    
     parole  and revocation  hearings by  traveling to  each                                                                    
     correctional facility  four times  per year  instead of                                                                    
     two. The board  also hired five new  staff positions to                                                                    
     address  the   increase  in  workload.   The  positions                                                                    
     included one  criminal justice technician,  one hearing                                                                    
     officer IV, and three hearing officer IIIs.                                                                                
3:41:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CURTIS turned to the recommendations for improvement,                                                                       
starting on page 18, that were part of the audit. She                                                                           
highlighted that the  reason for the reduced  extension is solely                                                               
because the  board statutes continue  to change and  she believes                                                               
increased oversight is prudent during  this period. She discussed                                                               
the following recommendations:                                                                                                  
     Recommendation  No. 1:  The board's  executive director                                                                
     should  improve procedures  to ensure  final revocation                                                                  
     hearings are performed timely.                                                                                           
     The  audit  found that  16  percent  of the  revocation                                                                    
     hearings tested  were not performed within  120 days of                                                                    
     the parolee's  arrest. The  late hearings  were between                                                                    
     five and 12 days late.                                                                                                     
     Recommendation  No. 2:  The board's  executive director                                                                  
     should  work with  DOC's  commissioner  to improve  the                                                                  
     quality of telephonic hearings.                                                                                          
     The audit identified poor  quality telephone systems at                                                                    
     four  of 13  correctional  facilities, including  Yukon                                                                    
     Kuskokwim  Correctional  Center, Wildwood  Correctional                                                                    
     Complex,  Fairbanks  Correctional  Center,  and  Hiland                                                                    
     Mountain   Correctional    Center.   These   facilities                                                                    
     accounted  for  495  (14 percent)  of  the  parole  and                                                                    
     revocation  hearings from  calendar years  2015 through                                                                    
     Recommendation  No. 3:  The board's  executive director                                                                  
     should take  steps to  ensure regulations  are properly                                                                  
     The audit  identified two sections of  regulations were                                                                    
     not properly updated [due to human error].                                                                                 
     Recommendation    No.    4:    DOC's    [Division    of                                                                
     Administrative Services] director  should take steps to                                                                  
     ensure  [the  Alaska  Correctional  Management  System]                                                                  
     complies  with  State information  technology  security                                                                  
     standards and national best practices.                                                                                   
MS. CURTIS  advised that the  findings leading  to Recommendation                                                               
No.   4  were   communicated   to  management   in  a   separate,                                                               
confidential letter. They  were not included in  the audit report                                                               
to prevent the weaknesses from being exploited.                                                                                 
3:43:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CURTIS directed  attention  to the  responses  to the  audit                                                               
report,  starting  on  page 33.  The  Department  of  Corrections                                                               
commissioner agreed  with the four  findings and stated  that the                                                               
department was  moving forward with corrective  action within the                                                               
constraints of its budget. Starting on  page 35, the chair of the                                                               
Parole Board  concurred with  the three  recommendations directed                                                               
at the board and described the planned corrective actions.                                                                      
CHAIR REVAK asked if there were committee questions.                                                                            
3:43:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI asked  about the  timeline between  Senate Bill                                                               
91, Senate Bill 54, and Senate  Bill 49 and whether the rules and                                                               
regulations   for   those   pieces  of   legislation   had   been                                                               
promulgated.  He  further  asked if  she  anticipates  revisiting                                                               
these matters during the next audit in five years.                                                                              
MS.  CURTIS  responded that  there  were  changes to  the  parole                                                               
statutes the  year after Senate  Bill 91 passed. There  were also                                                               
significant statutory changes after May  2019 that this audit did                                                               
not review.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR REVAK noted who was available to answer questions.                                                                        
3:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILSON expressed  interest in  asking the  Department of                                                               
Law representative a question.                                                                                                  
3:45:19 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
3:45:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK  reconvened the meeting  and discerned there  were no                                                               
further questions.  He opened and  closed public testimony  on SB
137  and encouraged  the public  to submit  written testimony  to                                                               
ssta@akleg.gov. He  noted that  the fiscal  note attached  to the                                                               
bill was zero.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR REVAK  stated that he  would hold  SB 137 in  committee for                                                               
future consideration.                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 137 Parole-Board Sunset Audit 20-20116-19.pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2020 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB 137 Sponsor Statement 2.6.2020.pdf SFIN 3/11/2020 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 177- Sectional Analysis 2.17.20.pdf SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 177
SB 177-Sponsor Statement 2.6.20.pdf SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 177
HB 109 Statement of Change version M to K 2.6.2020.pdf SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
HB 109
HB 109 Statement of Change version A to M 2.6.2020.pdf SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
HB 109