Legislature(1997 - 1998)
10/24/1997 09:08 AM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE October 24, 1997 9:08 a.m. Anchorage, Alaska MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Joe Green, Chairman Representative Con Bunde, Vice Chairman Representative Brian Porter Representative Jeannette James (via teleconference) Representative Ethan Berkowitz MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Norman Rokeberg Representative Eric Croft COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HOUSE BILL NO. 252 "An Act relating to criminal records; relating to notice about and registration of sex offenders and child kidnappers; and amending Rules 11(c) and 32(c), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 273 "An Act relating to notification of the public concerning sex offenders." - HEARD AND HELD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 252 SHORT TITLE: REGISTRATION OF SEX & CHILD OFFENDERS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) RYAN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/16/97 1122 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/16/97 1122 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 05/05/97 (H) JUD AT 1:30 PM CAPITOL 120 05/05/97 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 05/08/97 (H) JUD AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 120 05/08/97 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 10/24/97 (H) JUD AT 9:00 AM ANCHORAGE LIO BILL: HB 273 SHORT TITLE: NOTIFY COMMUNITY ABOUT SEX OFFENDERS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MASEK JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 05/08/97 1656 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 05/08/97 1656 (H) JUDICIARY 10/24/97 (H) JUD AT 9:00 AM ANCHORAGE LIO WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 420 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3875 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 252. DAVID PREE, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Ryan Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 420 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3875 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed proposed changes to HB 252. ANNE D. CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General Legal Services Section - Juneau Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Telephone: (907) 465-3428 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 252. TED BACHMAN, Captain Division of Alaska State Troopers Department of Public Safety 5700 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Telephone: (907) 269-5641 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 252; testified briefly on HB 273. BRUCE RICHARDS, Program Coordinator Office of the Commissioner Department of Corrections 240 Main Street, Suite 700 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3307 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 252. BARBARA BRINK, Director Public Defender Agency Department of Administration 900 West 5th Avenue, Suite 200 Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2090 Telephone: (907) 264-4400 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 252 and HB 273. DENALI DANIELS Standing Together Against Rape 1074 West Fireweed Lane, Suite 230 Telephone: (907) 276-7279 Anchorage, Alaska 99503 Telephone: (907) 276-7279 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 252. JANICE LIENHART Victims for Justice 619 East 5th Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 (No telephone number provided) POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 252. KIMBERLEE VANDERHOOF 717 9th Avenue Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 Telephone: (907) 452-2293 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 252. SUZANNE MANNIKKO HC 33, Box 2859-A Wasilla, Alaska 99654 Telephone: (907) 373-9028 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 252. "BILLIE" (No last name, address or telephone number provided) POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 252 as mother of sex offender and grandmother of victim. REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 432 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2679 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 273. EDDIE GRASSER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Masek Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 432 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2679 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of sponsor of HB 273. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-83, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN called the House Judiciary Standing Committee meeting to order at 9:08 a.m. at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office (LIO). Members present at the call to order were Representatives Green, Bunde, and Porter; Representative James was present via teleconference. Representative Berkowitz arrived shortly after the call to order. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that both bills being heard that day, HB 252 and HB 273, relate to sex offender registration. He also noted that Anne Carpeneti from the Department of Law was on teleconference, as was the Fairbanks LIO. HB 252 - REGISTRATION OF SEX & CHILD OFFENDERS [Contains testimony relevant to HB 273.] CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the committee would first hear House Bill No. 252, "An Act relating to criminal records; relating to notice about and registration of sex offenders and child kidnappers; and amending Rules 11(c) and 32(c), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure." Number 016 REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN, sponsor, came forward accompanied by his legislative assistant, David Pree. Representative Ryan read from the sponsor statement. He explained that HB 252 is being offered to intensify the sex offender and child kidnapper registration statutes and the registration process, in order to better protect our citizens from criminals. The intent is to comply with recent changes to the law, "including the Wetterling Act and the Violent Offender Registration Act," and remain eligible for the $200,000 in funds granted to states that comply with these Acts. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said HB 252 allows that failure to register as a sex offender and child kidnapper, or to register properly, results in a class C felony instead of a misdemeanor. By raising it from a misdemeanor to a class C felony, it induces a person to register and to do so properly. "If not, the parole/probation can be revoked, and the person can be reincarcerated," Representative Ryan added, saying it allows the state to have a much bigger "stick" to make these people obey the law. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN indicated that under HB 252, persons responsible for hiring and employing people have to have access to current and past criminal histories. By reducing reporting times, HB 252 allows reduction of the time an offender is unregistered and unsupervised. It reduces the time that a sex offender or child kidnapper has to report a change of address, and it provides for annual or quarterly verifications of addresses of sex offenders or child kidnappers. The length of time a sex offender or child kidnapper must register in order to meet the requirements of 42 U.S.C. 14071 is also adjusted. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said the bill requires the Department of Public Safety to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if a sex offender or child kidnapper does not register or cannot be found; if such a person moves to another state, the FBI and the other state are notified. Furthermore, the Alaska Court System is required to provide a list of persons convicted of sex offenses to the Department of Public Safety and to require the Department of Public Safety to make reasonable efforts to verify the addresses of sex offenders and child kidnappers registering under AS 12.63. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN advised members of his intention to add to the bill; David Pree would provide details. Representative Ryan explained, "The reason we haven't put it in here is we were waiting for some court cases from different jurisdictions to be resolved by the United States Supreme Court. And they were resolved in the favor of our intention, and now we can go forward." He indicated that lack of legislative legal staff had also slowed the process; however, there would be a proposed committee substitute prior to the start of session. Number 056 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked whether raising the failure to register from a misdemeanor to a felony is one of the federal requirements that Representative Ryan had mentioned. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN replied, "No. The reason that I brought that about is a constituent brought it to my attention, who follows these issues in the neighborhood, part of the community patrol, that there were 185 convicted sex offenders within a mile of my house. And then we started checking addresses and finding business places, malls, all kinds of places where a person couldn't have a residence, that were listed as their addresses." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said he'd decided that obviously the law currently isn't effective to make these people comply with the law and register. His thought was that perhaps if they increase the penalty and these people know they will face a stiff incarceration, this may be the "stick" the state needs to get these people to obey the law and to allow the communities to know at least where they live, so that people in the neighborhoods will be aware of this and take more proactive action looking out for their children. Number 070 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE advised members that of late, he'd been receiving correspondence from people encouraging legislation that would require anybody that works with children to have a background check. He asked whether it would fall under the bill title to expand it to require background checks for previous sex offender convictions before allowing anyone to work with young people. Representative Berkowitz arrived. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN replied, "Partially. We require an employer to run a check. I've seen the same information that you [have], and I've talked to the person. And that's a fairly broad-brush approach as a policy matter. And I haven't taken the initiative to do that without the opportunity to consult with my colleagues in the legislature as to how they feel the ramifications of the invasion of privacy ... may be on individuals who have no record and would object to having a criminal investigation. And so, ... as you know, it's a hot potato. And I wanted to have time personally to reflect on this, discuss it with other people in the legislature, before I consider taking initiative on it. I don't know that we could paint everybody under the color of this bill, with that particular action." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN indicated this bill is aimed at people who have received a conviction, basically pedophiles or those who have demonstrated by their behavior that they have these particular problems or this behavior pattern. In talking to professionals in law enforcement, and to psychologists or others who deal with these people, he'd been told that it is just not what these people do, it is what they are. They can't seem to help themselves. There is a pattern of recidivism, with increasing severity, "until we wind up with a dead child." Representative Ryan stated his intention of precluding that from happening, so that we don't have to suffer these tragedies. Number 104 REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ apologized for being late. He mentioned the crime of custodial interference, which essentially occurs when a noncustodial parent abducts the child. He asked whether there was any overlap between the intent of HB 252 and that crime. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked whether that is considered kidnapping under the law. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied that it is under the kidnapping statute. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN responded, "No, it's not my intent." He clarified that his intent is to get to people who kidnap children for the purposes of sexual assault or the many varied things that pedophile activity entails, not necessarily being broad enough to bring in custodial interference. He said he believes that is outside the purview of this bill, and he noted in those cases, the children aren't being abused, attacked, killed or threatened. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed that it is beyond the purview of this bill. Number 128 DAVID PREE, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Ryan, advised members that the proposed change is to include what is commonly known as the "predator statute." He said it was a Washington law used in the Midwest and subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which had issued a decision. Because of lack of legal services that month, he didn't have a copy of that decision or a firm proposal to make that day. They anticipate, however, that those statutes will be included in this bill. MR. PREE continued: "The `predator law' would basically allow the state to keep people under control of some sort - we don't know whether we're proposing a formal incarceration like prison or not - but allow them to be kept under close control by the state until such time as they are deemed `not a predator' or `not a threat,' is the basis of the predator rules. Additionally, we've considered, and are intending to propose by the first of session, that this bill include a change in the statute moving the place ... in the process where an individual is considered eligible to register as a sex offender. And we're ... proposing to move that to the time of sentencing, so that their registration as a sex offender would be taken care of immediately at sentencing, allowing us to ... ensure that registration." MR. PREE said it would eliminate the problem now where people are released from incarceration and subsequently fail to register. It would also allow the state to put the community on notice that these individuals are sex offenders, despite the fact that they're in jail. And if they are discharged and don't register properly, there would be a mechanism to track them, built into the system, by virtue of the fact that they're already registered. Number 165 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN referred to the predator aspect. He said the Supreme Court has ruled that if a person proves to be incorrigible, they can be incarcerated for the rest of their natural life, if that is necessary to keep them from this behavior. He explained, "You just keep them locked up until such time as they no longer incorrigible. And if they remain incorrigible, they remain incarcerated, a pretty heavy thing to think about, but it's also a pretty heavy thing to allow people like this to be released into the general population and to have dead children. ... I had to weigh this very carefully before I thought about including this provision, but the balance seems to come out that the welfare of children is much more important than the individual liberty of a person who has a problem ... which they can't overcome." Number 178 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether the term "unconditional discharge" means they have a clean bill of health, and that it has been determined that they've served their time or that they no longer are a threat to society. Noting that it occurs in two or three places in the bill, he cited one instance on page 3, line 10, where it says, "the date the sex offender or child kidnapper was unconditionally discharged". REPRESENTATIVE RYAN suggested that perhaps someone more familiar with sentencing and discharge conditions could respond. Number 190 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded, "I believe `unconditionally discharge' means that the time has run on the sentence and that there is no further hook, if you will, probation or parole, and control of the individual." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN mentioned a reference to 15 years in the bill. He stated, "That says that if you keep your act together and you have no more problems, that after a period of time, then yes, you are ...." REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said a conditional release would be as to conditions of the parole. Number 196 CHAIRMAN GREEN requested clarification. He proposed a scenario where "Jones" is convicted and is now out on parole and registering. He moves to a state that doesn't require registration and lives there for seven or eight years, then returns. Chairman Green referred to page 4, line 30, which discusses tolling. He asked, "Does that apply to Jones, that the seven-year period is tolled and he still, then, needs to register for the balance of the 15 years? Or does his moving to a state that doesn't have the registration eliminate that seven years?" He specified he was using version 0-LS0818\B of the bill. Number 219 MR. PREE stated, "To be honest with you, I don't think that we intended to have a situation where a sex offender was leaving here and going to a state that didn't require registration. ... I don't think that much longer we are going to have a situation exist where a state doesn't (indisc.) a registry. But very definitely, the scenario that you described would fit in that description, and his registration period would be tolled at the time that he is not in compliance somewhere. And he would have to continue to register." Number 221 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked, "In the contingency that there's some sort of national compliance required, would satisfaction of the national compliance satisfy (indisc.)?" REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said yes. He indicated that "Megan's Law," passed by the U.S. Congress, was referred to here. He stated, "They have provisions in there for the FBI notification when people move and the requirements, and these are part of ... an opportunity on the part of the federal government to establish a national data base of these folks and to keep track of them. And you have an obligation when a person leaves your jurisdiction, if you have knowledge of it, to notify the FBI that that person has changed from your jurisdiction; and there is a certain period of time when they arrive at the new jurisdiction they're required to register. Vice versa, other states will notify our Department of Public Safety when someone's coming. If they don't meet those registration requirements, they fall under the statute. They come here from Alabama and they don't register as a convicted sex offender, then when they show up, they have broken this law." CHAIRMAN GREEN said, "Okay, even if Alabama doesn't have a required registration, if they're in this state and have been ... convicted - it doesn't have to be convicted here - they are required to register." Number 240 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said conversely, if an offender convicted in Alaska went to Alabama, and if Alabama had no registration requirement, they wouldn't be in violation of this chapter. "So, they would not need the tolling," he suggested. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether Ms. Carpeneti could help them on this. Number 258 ANNE D. CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section - Juneau, Criminal Division, Department of Law, spoke via teleconference from Juneau. She indicated she had been unable to hear Representative Porter. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said the section they were talking about was on page 4, line 30, regarding tolling. He stated, "The question was: If ... an offender who was required to register in Alaska went to a state that had no registration and stayed in that state for five years and then returned to Alaska, would that five years be tolled or not? And my guess was it would not be tolled because that five years in whatever state it was that had no requirement for registration was not a violation of this chapter as the tolling section requires." MS. CARPENETI replied, "That's my understanding also. But as Mr. Pree said, I think we're moving toward a time when we're going to be registering through the FBI. And if a state doesn't have a registration plan, you're going to be required to register with the FBI. And, at least in the Governor's bill, that is included in the period of registration, if you comply with FBI regulations for registration." Number 263 CHAIRMAN GREEN suggested that would be good to include with the amendments. Referring to Representative Bunde's question and employment, he proposed a hypothetical scenario where Jones, who is properly registered, shows up to coach, on a voluntary basis, for a youth group with 25 coaches and some girls' teams. Chairman Green asked whether that information would be available to that youth group. Number 273 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN responded, "Mr. Chairman, since the introduction of this bill, we have voluntarily received a lot of cooperation from the Department of Public Safety. And they have put out an Internet site with the names of these folks. They, I understand now, they will pass out the names without charge, copying fee charge, which has severely impacted their budget, as you can imagine, personnel costs and so forth. And they're ... making very good efforts; I'm very proud of the agency. And I'm sure there's some folks here will tell you more than what I've told you about this. So, it's very easy to find out if anyone who is coming to volunteer has a conviction. The department is cooperating quite well." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN noted that a volunteer is not an employee. He pointed out that whether the legislature wants to have these particular screenings for everyone dealing with kids is a policy question that they must decide as a body. He stated, "And right now, I personally see both sides of that sword; it cuts both ways, privacy versus the thing, and I want to give that some consideration before I take any personal action on it. Here I'm dealing with folks, you know, have already demonstrated that their conduct is such that ... they can't be trusted." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN stated his belief that it would be good conduct for an agency dealing with children to do what they can to screen those who deal with children. If someone who volunteered subsequently got a child sexual offense, people would ask, "Why didn't you check these people, especially when the information is readily available?" Number 302 CHAIRMAN GREEN said the reason he'd asked is that both the coaches and the participants are volunteers, and a "reverence" can be established between a child and a coach that transcends the average, run-of-the-mill relationship. He suggested the need to be extremely careful in such situations. Number 309 TED BACHMAN, Captain, Division of Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public Safety (DPS), came forward to testify on behalf of the department, which administers the sex offender registration programs. A trooper for 19 years, he is presently assigned to the director's office in Anchorage. CAPTAIN BACHMAN advised members that the Governor is very supportive of anything to strengthen public protection efforts through the sex offender registration process. He commented, "In fact, he has introduced HB 186 and SB 132 to address many of the issues that are found in this bill as well." Number 320 CAPTAIN BACHMAN said one area of this bill that causes them the greatest concern is elevating the crime of failing to register as a sex offender from a class A misdemeanor to a class C felony. He stated, "First of all, I would like to give the misdemeanor law that we presently have a chance to work; and I'll talk in a minute about what we're doing now to make that happen. But we don't feel that making this a felony will make a tremendous difference in the compliance. We feel that enforcement is the actual key to that compliance issue. When you consider all the added requirements that are brought about by a felony charge, we feel that it would cause a lot more of our precious resources to be devoted to fewer enforcement actions. And we would rather see those additional resources devoted to the actual enforcement ..., rather than increasing the cost of each individual enforcement." CAPTAIN BACHMAN continued, "One way of possibly putting this into perspective as far as the level of offense is concerned might be to view this change in this context. If we proceed with this change, a person would be charged with a class C felony for failing to register as a sex offender. But if a person were to beat their `significant other,' they would only be charged with a class A misdemeanor. And, you know, we certainly want to address ... both issues, but it does kind of help to put it kind of in a better perspective when you think of it in those terms. ... And I should say also that as a class A misdemeanor, the sex offender who fails to register could be jailed for up to a year, just on this charge alone. So, once again, we'd like to give the present law a chance to work with the increased enforcement effort ... that we have underway right now." Number 346 CAPTAIN BACHMAN discussed what the department has done since introduction of this bill, saying, "We no longer record or maintain a record of people who had accessed the sex offender lists or individual offender record sheets; it's completely anonymous. We don't keep any record of who comes in and asks for it. ... In fact, if a person walks into one of our offices and asks for a copy, we simply just hand them a copy without any kind of identification whatsoever. We don't ask them what they're going to do with it. We simply give it to them." CAPTAIN BACHMAN continued, "We publish the sex offender registry on the Internet. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, communitywide, statewide; it's even available worldwide, if somebody wanted to access it from anyplace in the world. It's updated every business day. So, it is the most current information available anywhere. It's even more current than, say, you would get if you walked into our office in Fairbanks; they would have the most recent list that we'd sent to Fairbanks, but getting it off the Internet would be current within 24 hours ... on any given business day. And it is true that the Internet is not available in every community in this state and not available to everyone. But, as you're certainly aware, that is changing rather rapidly. And additionally, Internet access is completely anonymous; there's no record of who accesses that information." CAPTAIN BACHMAN continued, "The sex offender registry lists and individual offender information sheets are now available to anyone at no cost. We used to charge for those lists; we used to charge for the costs of producing this list. We no longer do that. You can go to any state trooper post in the state and get a copy of the list or order up a copy of an individual offender's particular information sheet. And we give that to anybody at no charge, again, in an effort to make this as widely accessible as possible." CAPTAIN BACHMAN stated, "In an effort to increase the level of enforcement, we've dedicated a clerk to do nothing but conduct computer research into the information that may assist a police officer anywhere in the state in locating and charging sex offenders who fail to register. The clerk researches last known addresses, vehicles registered, permanent fund dividend applications, ... property tax records, Department of Corrections computer information, anything that's out there that she can research with a computer and put together in a packet to help us to narrow down where this person might be and then hand this packet off to a police officer, who now doesn't have to do ... any of the footwork, any of the research. It's all done for them. And they can simply go to the last known address or look for these vehicles that they know were registered to (indisc.) individual. So, we hope to use less expensive resources to more accurately focus our more expensive resources, the people who actually have to go out and (indisc.) contact with these people." CAPTAIN BACHMAN continued, "We have dedicated one trooper position here in Anchorage to do two things. The one thing that he does is he coordinates the enforcement effort statewide, to the extent that he can. When we produce a packet on someone in Fairbanks or Juneau, this trooper would then contact somebody personally in one of those communities and say, `I have this packet coming your way; could you please go see if you can round this guy up?' The other thing that he does is he does actual enforcement here in the Anchorage area. And as you well know, there are quite a few sex offenders just in this area. Since he's been doing this, he's already charged six people with failing to register, which is about as many as were charged statewide all of last year. And this is just about at a month or so. So, that is, hopefully, going to have an impact in that we put that out to the press every time we make one of these charges. And as we make more of them, then ... it becomes more known that we're coming after these people. Hopefully, others will come and voluntarily comply; at least, that's ... our thought at this point." CAPTAIN BACHMAN concluded, "Lastly, you're going to hear from the Department of Corrections this morning, and they're going to talk to you about some very important steps in this process that they're doing to help us with the people who are in custody and who are out there under probationary supervision." He thanked the committee and offered to answer questions. Number 421 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked what had transpired with the six people that they had come up with who had failed to register. CAPTAIN BACHMAN replied, "Well, Mr. Chairman, we do the computer research, and we send this trooper out to actually find these people. Once he locates them, it is our position that we are going to charge them. That may ultimately be resolved later with the Department of Law, depending on their plans. But we would actually go and knock on their door or go to their last known place of business and tell them that they need to come downtown and register. And we also cite them for failing to register. ... And then the normal process, ... it's a fixed procedure for a misdemeanor, failing to register." Number 435 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked whether most of the people being picked up aren't unconditionally released. CAPTAIN BACHMAN replied, "That is correct. We're actually very early into this process. So, that 15-year period, you know, really hasn't come into play at this point. ... We have maybe a few people early in at ... the beginning of this law who have a significant chunk of that ... unconditional discharge period already past. But it really has not come into play yet; it's too early at this point." Number 447 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "That being subject to a condition for even a misdemeanor would be a violation of a conditional release, and they would probably buy themselves additional time on the underlying offense." CAPTAIN BACHMAN responded, "Yes, they certainly could. And I would expect that if the prosecution went forward and they were ultimately convicted, they certainly could, yes." Number 455 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE referred to earlier discussion of the option of passing a law that would require a criminal background check for anyone, including volunteers. He asked for Captain Bachman's reaction to that. CAPTAIN BACHMAN replied, "The checks would be, in fact, for criminal convictions. But the investigations or checks would, themselves, would not be actual criminal investigations. And the reason I'm saying that is that any agency with access to criminal history records could conduct those checks. It wouldn't necessarily have to be the Department of Public Safety or a municipal law enforcement agency. An agency, for instance, who might oversee child care licensing and that sort of thing, like [the Department of] Health and Social Services, could in fact themselves conduct those checks. I think it would be a very simple process that would not require a tremendous amount of resource. And, ... as you know, the law currently provides for the ability to do that but doesn't require that it be done. So, I think with a minor amount of resources, ... anybody with access ... could certainly conduct those checks." Number 483 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked whether those kinds of searches are narrowly tailored to sex offenses or whether they include any criminal history. CAPTAIN BACHMAN replied, "Let me say that I think that generally they would be tailored just to sex offenses. I think it could depend on what kind of a check you were conducting, and for what purpose. I certainly think that other criminal convictions could certainly come into play. And I think in the context that we're speaking here, it would generally be sex offenses that we would be looking at." Number 496 CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that they'd dedicated a trooper. He asked, "But as far as a burdensome thing, do you see anything else in the bill itself that would tend to increase your workload beyond the normal activity?" CAPTAIN BACHMAN replied, "Mr. Chairman, there are some things that certainly will increase our workload, but they're also going to be mandated nationwide. This is going to bring some additional people into the registration process, for instance, the child kidnapper people. It also brings in, my recollection is, people who engage in ... some of the prostitution crimes. It's also going to require, and I don't recall that it's in this particular bill or not, but there's going to be some increased contact or communication with the registry, more often than they're required to now, that is going to increase our workload. And it is going to have some fiscal impact. But, as I say, that is something that we're all going to have to live with, and we're certainly happy to do that." Number 520 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES commented via teleconference that comparing a sex offender who doesn't register to someone who beats up a spouse or significant other isn't a good comparison. "I think the sex offenders are more dangerous," she added. Number 550 BRUCE RICHARDS, Program Coordinator, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Corrections (DOC), came forward to testify. He stated, "I guess I'll start with something Captain Bachman mentioned. The Department of Corrections recently, at the beginning of October, started to register sex offenders prior to them leaving the institutions. ... The system prior to this was that you had seven days ... after leaving a correctional facility to register with the Department of Public Safety. And it's been stepped up now where ... you register before you get out. It seems to make more sense, you know, to get a better idea of who these people are. ... I even think that if you go a step further, when you get a conviction, which was brought up previously, it makes even more sense. So, ... that is something ... that's going on and I think will help this process, will help the public safety. ... It will help protect the public." MR. RICHARDS next referred to the class C felony and to the fiscal note from the Department of Corrections, which he'd prepared the previous year when this bill was scheduled for a hearing. He explained that the fiscal note was based on the prior year's admissions and actual incarcerations of people who had been charged for failure to register. He stated, "And as you know now, with the stepped-up enforcement by the Department of Public Safety, these numbers will probably change significantly with the class C felony. You're talking about a two-year presumptive sentence, because these people are already felons, prior to failing to register. So, we're going to have them awhile. And it costs money. And ... there's different numbers out there about how many people are actually out there that aren't registered; it ranges anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200. If you were to have a stepped-up enforcement effort and we were to collect all of them, 61 million bucks, roughly, just for the incarceration costs." MR. RICHARDS said that doesn't include operation of those new facilities. That is just taking the per-day cost of incarceration and multiplying it out. It is a significant impact, and the current fiscal note is obviously not going to cover this, especially with stepped-up enforcement. He emphasized that this will have a major impact on the Department of Corrections, which he hopes they'll consider in deliberations. Number 597 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES expressed intense concern about people registering and doing so in the proper location. She mentioned the $61 million cost versus the value of a life. While she understood not having space in the correctional system, she said keeping people on the street isn't the way to deal with it. She suggested they should be making a decision on "what is going to make them register, not penalize them for not registering." [Representative Berkowitz spoke briefly but it is not on the tape.] TAPE 97-83, SIDE B Number 001 MR. RICHARDS mentioned a further issue that involves another presumptive sentence, which is perjury, such as when a person puts down the wrong address. He believes that is a class B felony, with a four-year presumptive sentence. He doesn't know the inaccuracy rate or the rate of people providing false information, and there is no way for him to gauge that or provide numbers for that. Number 010 CHAIRMAN GREEN said, "Okay, so failure is a two and deliberate misrepresentation or lying is a four, as far as you know." MR. RICHARDS said yes. He indicated that a section of the bill covers perjury, and he suggested Ms. Carpeneti may address that. He added, "That's perjury versus unsworn falsification, I think is the issue." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ suggested a person could get "whacked" for both at the same time, as a person who committed perjury would not be in compliance. MR. RICHARDS replied that he doesn't know; he isn't a lawyer. Number 017 CHAIRMAN GREEN commented that a person with a four-year presumptive sentence as a felon could be shipped out-of-state. Number 020 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN explained that they'd put in perjury as a method of ensuring they didn't get false registrations. The basic point isn't necessarily to incarcerate people but to make it known to them that the state isn't going to fool around with them any longer. They'd obey the law or else the penalties would be severe. As Representative James had mentioned, while $61 million is a lot of money, Representative Ryan's nine-year-old son is worth much, much more than that to him. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN suggested if we don't provide public safety as a system of government, there is probably not much use in being a government. He indicated it is incumbent upon the legislature to protect the citizens of the state to the best of their ability, to put forth the laws necessary. He said he can't imagine that all of these people will be incarcerated at the same time, that they'll all disobey the law. He said this law is to be proactive, to keep them from disobeying the law. He didn't know how realistic the 1,200 figure is. Although he hopes they won't have to reincarcerate any of them because they will obey the law, he feels there is a need to have a strong "stick" to show the others that this kind of behavior won't be tolerated. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said he couldn't help but applaud Representative Ryan for pointing out the need to fund public safety adequately. He indicated the Alaska State Troopers are already unfunded by 30 or 31 posts now. He encouraged adequate funding, saying that is the surest route we have to generating public safety. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN commented that he believes the department already has the ability to charge someone with perjury if that person registers with a false address. Number 070 BARBARA BRINK, Director, Public Defender Agency, Department of Administration, came forward to testify. She expressed appreciation for Representative Ryan's efforts in this regard and said it is a problem being struggled with nationwide. She said she finds herself in the pleasant position of actually concurring with members of the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Corrections on some of her own agency's concerns. MS. BRINK said the first issue was whether or not it would be a good idea to change this crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. She believes this should be considered seriously, with the benefits of harsher penalties weighed against the likelihood that it will increase registration. MS. BRINK stated, "I know our goal for everyone is to increase registration, provide more notice to the members of the public and to law enforcement. In considering increasing the penalty, you must consider the increased costs. I, like the representative from the Department of Corrections, have heard different numbers about those people who are in ... noncompliance, ranging from 1,200 to 2,500 people who have not registered. Taking that low number, if all of those people were to be prosecuted for a class C felony offense - and I would suspect, as in many felonies, (indisc.) approximately 90 percent of them would be found to be indigent and appointed to the Public Defender Agency - in order to comply with minimal attorney standards, that would take ten additional lawyers to handle that many new felonies. The national law enforcement association standards require that no lawyer handle more than 150 felonies per year. That's what I'm using to base my figures on." Number 080 MS. BRINK continued, "So, I think if that's not necessary to comply with the federal standards, and that's not necessary to continue receiving our federal funding, that might be an area that we should take a harder look at in deciding how we should handle this. Now, I would urge this committee to keep that as a misdemeanor. Another reason I would urge that is you have to really understand the large gene pool that you're dealing with, with potential offenders. This bill makes it a lot harder to register. It requires you to do it more often, quarterly rather than annually. It requires you to do it a lot quicker, three days in some instances, seven days in other instances. There is a lot more information you have to give about your address or your motor vehicles." MS. BRINK continued, "And so, there are more places for people to slip up, to not get it together, to fail to make it down to the troopers every three months. And so, you are going to have not the numbers that we're dealing with now, people who have not complied with the statute, but you're going to have even more numbers because it's a lot more difficult to comply with that statute. What you're doing, then, is you're grouping together those people who are willful violators, those people who are blowing it off and ignoring it, with those people who just aren't capable of complying with dotting every `i' and crossing every `t.' So, you would be increasing the gene pool." MS. BRINK discussed unconditional discharge. She said, "Representative Porter is correct. Unconditional discharge means you don't have any more probation, you don't have any parole, there's really nothing to supervise (indisc.). So, you have to understand how long people fall under this statute. If a person is convicted of a single sex offense, they're going to do eight years in prison, presumptive term. When they get out of prison, I can tell you the prevailing rate today is they're going to do ten years on probation. So, by the time they are unconditionally discharged, they've already done 18 years supervised, ten of those on parole or probation with the registration requirement. So, by the time the 15 years would roll around, where they would be eligible to come off this list, they've been on the list for 25 years." MS. BRINK continued, "I'm not urging you to change the length of it. I just want you to understand that that's going to continue to be a larger and larger pool of people that need to follow these requirements very strictly." She said it could lead to a larger and larger pool of potential violators, both intentional and inadvertent. Number 092 MS. BRINK said she wanted to talk about an area that they hadn't addressed yet, although it probably comes up more seriously in the next bill relating to community notification. The current bill provides for newspaper notification, and she wanted to provide information about the impact of newspaper community notification. MS. BRINK advised members that Washington was the first state in the country to pass the sex offender registration bill; they are therefore way ahead of Alaska in terms of assessing its impact. Since Washington's notification law was passed in 1990, police reported 33 harassment cases of those people, following 942 community notifications. MS. BRINK stated, "That means that when they put that out to the general public, about 3-1/2 percent of all those people suffer as victims of crime later than that, because of people's feeling that `these people aren't acceptable in my community,' that they shouldn't be allowed to live. It invokes a lot of strong emotions in people. In Everett, people picketed outside of a sex offender's apartment until he had to move. Other people had their homes set on fire, rocks, things of that nature." MS. BRINK continued, "I'm not saying that, you know, we should place their interests and their rights to privacy above everyone else's. All I'm saying is we should consider very seriously the impact of how far we take this information and how far we spread it. And it seems to me that a system that the troopers have devised is very effective, because it takes those people who are interested and have a vested interest in getting that information, but it makes it as easy as it can be for them to get that information. So, the information isn't distributed randomly to those people who don't have an interest or a legitimate interest and just want to use it to create difficulties or problems." MS. BRINK continued, "Additionally, we all know that that kind of public notification and stigmatizing could hinder someone's ability to rehabilitate themselves. I'd be interested in hearing those figures on recidivism myself. After being in this business for 15 years, I think it's really dangerous to try to predict what people are going to do in the future. I mean, psychologists and psychiatrists and people -- we're all assuming these people are going to do something bad in the future. That's a really tricky area, and it's really difficult to predict someone's actions in the future, based on their actions in the past." MS. BRINK said that brought her to her final point. She said she'd be interested in seeing Representative Ryan's sexual predator law. She stated, "I know that's the new wave of the future, that people are considering that. And, of course, I don't have any specific comments to address to that, but the idea that -- psychiatrists and community corrections professionals and the criminal justice system for years have been trying to predict future behavior. And it's a really dangerous thing in locking people up because we think we know what they're going to be doing in the future." Number 120 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated, "You expressed a strong concern that what we're doing now is adequate, and yet your opening remark was that there's somewhere between 1,200 and 2,500 unregistered sex offenders." MS. BRINK said those figures were provided from the Department of Corrections. CHAIRMAN GREEN responded that 1,200 or 2,500 is a significant number either way. He asked, "And if we don't do something more than we're doing now, can we anticipate that that's going to stay at a very high number? I mean, there hasn't been anything to reduce it yet." He asked how many are out there that we don't know about, that haven't been caught. He further asked whether we are subjecting our youth to a jungle if we don't do something significant. Number 130 MS. BRINK replied, "I understand your question, Mr. Chairman. And I think what I've taken note of is the changes that have been made. I think the DOC policy of registering people before they ever get out takes care of a large number of those people, because those people do serve jail time. I mean, those are people who, due to presumptive sentencing and our current state of the laws, are going to jail. So, I would suspect that since we've instituted that policy, which I understand is recent, we're going to have much better compliance with anyone new. Additionally, there's a notice problem." MS. BRINK continued, "Now, the rules have changed, and any client that I represent gets their judgment and it has the requirement right on it. For years before we had a bill like this, nobody knew that ten years later, 15 years later, 20 years later they were going to have to register. And so, I think there's a lack of knowledge for those people who have been out of jail for quite a while and are already back in their communities and ... hadn't had any problems, so that the problem is getting those older folks into the system, because it's new. And I think the changes that have been instituted will help us catch up and get a much greater compliance number." Number 143 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked, "From your position, do you feel that a more severe penalty or potential, such as being a felony, would have any influence upon a conviction? In other words, here's ... an accused sex offender in court, and the judge is looking at the potential of incarceration by presumptive sentence and then this period of registration and the consequences of a stubbed toe along the way. Is there, in your mind, any influence on the judicial system that says, `Well, I think I'll err on the side of safety here, because that's a pretty stiff sentence for this poor old guy.'" MS. BRINK replied, "Mr. Chairman, I think given the nature of the violations that I have seen, increased penalty wouldn't be a factor. Most of the violations I have seen have been rural Alaskans who aren't in touch with world and community events on the cutting edge, who are busy living subsistence lifestyles in remote locations, who have not made a conscious decision not to register but just it isn't the number-one priority in their lives. And perhaps it should be, but they're not considering jail or penalties or anything like that. Many of the violators that I've come in contact with were inspired by the simple citation to run down immediately and register. And I think that my experience would be borne out by the experience of the members of Public Safety. Those people get that ticket; they go register. It's not like they're making a conscious choice and saying, `I'm going to lie in wait; I'm going to hide; I'm not going to comply with this.'" MS. BRINK continued, "And secondly, Representative Berkowitz had brought out a good point. We recently represented a gentleman accused of failure to register, ... and he was charged with the misdemeanor. He had registered upon release from jail. He had registered the first time he moved. And I think he even registered the second time he moved. But he failed to register the third time that he moved. And he was in compliance with everything else. He was seeing his probation officer. He was not supervised (indisc.). And he was prosecuted. Even though he had demonstrated a willingness and an ability to register, for some reason at that period of his life, it didn't become a priority. He not only was prosecuted for the misdemeanor; they did (indisc.) felony probation for the underlying offense that he was serving time for. So, I think that the message is getting out there and that people are getting better notice and that, with the assistance of the DOC and DPS, there will be better compliance." Number 173 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether the fear of retribution is a factor. MS. BRINK replied, "I don't think it's so much the fear of retribution as ignorance and nonprioritization. Even the ticket was enough to make them go. So, would the fact that it was a C felony have improved their awareness? I don't think so. It's just making that a priority, giving them good notice, making sure that - - I mean, this bill requires them to do that every three months. That's a fairly onerous request. And so, getting them in the habit of doing that would be sufficient, I think ...." CHAIRMAN GREEN commented that it is a pretty heinous crime to commit against society, and if it causes a little inconvenience, it doesn't bother him at all. Number 184 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said it had been recently brought to his attention that the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS) has different standards for how they define child abuse, depending on whether an Alaska Native is involved. He asked whether Ms. Brink knew whether different standards apply relating to sexual abuse. MS. BRINK replied, "I think the benefit of the criminal milieu, as opposed to the child protective milieu, is that things are very well defined. There is no doubt about what constitutes sexual abuse of a minor." REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated his belief that while sexual offense is a broad category and some people undoubtedly can change, pedophiles will not change, as that is their sexual nature. MS. BRINK replied, "I agree with you that predilection, research has shown, is something that is ingrained. But I think the interesting things the literature and the experts talk about is whether or not the behavior or the conduct can be changed. And I know that the Western Washington sex offender program and the Hiland Mountain program, they are concerned with changing behavior. They realize that you may not be able to change the way someone thinks. But you certainly can empower them with the ability to control their conduct, and that's the basis of their work." She said the question is whether they've successfully completed a program that gives them the ability to say, "And that's never going to happen again; I'm never going to do that again." REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE inquired about the success rate. MS. BRINK replied that there is conflicting literature. Number 217 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked Ms. Brink to explain the Kansas case where the Supreme Court came down on the sexual predator; he said he hadn't read it. MS. BRINK said it had been a while since she read it. As she understood it, there is a very high burden of proof upon the states to prove that someone "absolutely, positively cannot be trusted out in public." It would be similar in analogy to standards for committing people to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API), that they are a danger to themselves or others such that it is not safe to let them go. Ms. Brink said, "And so, I believe that if a state were to impose a system like that, they would necessarily have to include an adjudication process whereby that person had due process, the state would have to meet that level of proof, and they would be entitled to defend themselves, because in essence what you're doing is you're locking people up based on what you think they're going to do in the future." REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked whether Ms. Brink remembered the factual situation. MS. BRINK said no and offered to get that information for the next hearing. Number 232 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said he applauds the efforts of the various agencies to become proactive since the introduction of this bill. He noted that few crimes in our society make a person more of a pariah. He stated, "I personally feel that, as a policy-making body for the state, that whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our children is what we have to do. And I'm willing to go, as you can see from the legislation, the extra mile. I don't want to interfere with anybody's ability to be rehabilitated. I hope that rehabilitation is possible, if not, the change of behavior, so that they may not be able to be rehabilitated but they stop doing what they do. And that's the purpose behind it. The severity of this is such that there's a big `stick' out there. You know that your probation is revoked. Under the felony conviction, you're going to the slammer. And, hopefully, ... that will make these people comply with the law." REPRESENTATIVE RYAN noted that people do move a lot. The bill addresses not only registration of their own vehicles, but they must also reveal other vehicles they have access to and may use. Noting that people caution their children not to talk to strangers, take candy from strangers, and so forth, Representative Ryan said people have told him of some of the insidious ways in which the offenders act. They have an instinctive ability to relate to a child on the child's level. They will say things, for instance, such as, "I've lost my dog; will you help me come look for it?" REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said it is difficult for adults who don't engage in this behavior to surmise that these people have this ability to get this level of communication with children. Since obtaining some knowledge, he has of course counseled his son to be very careful. Representative Ryan said he doesn't know what the solution is but hopes this will be a potential solution. "But if we have to err on any side, I'd rather be more severe than too lenient," he concluded. Number 268 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated his understanding that this is a continuing cycle, as abused children or sexually molested children then become abusers or molesters themselves. He suggested that in deliberating the cost of trying to stop it, they should consider the future as well; if they could stop it now, perhaps there would be fewer instances in the next generation. Number 277 DENALI DANIELS, Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), came forward to testify. She noted there had been some concern expressed regarding the profile of these predators; she said it is difficult to define. Referring to the possibility of unconditional sentencing, she said she knew it was in an "infancy" stage; she acknowledged that there is no way to comment on something that is not yet in writing. MS. DANIELS explained that STAR does education in the schools and youth groups in the Anchorage area, and it is the only agency in the state that deals strictly with sexual assault. It is "abundant in resources in this area." She said that if this legislature gets to the point to where they are discussing "what things in a predator could come out later" regarding sentencing and how long they are in jail, that probably needs to be talked about a lot, with "many, many people, including agencies like STAR, involved." She noted that in just determining how to define it, there are so many different levels of a sexual predator. While she realizes the intent of this bill relates to children, the language covers other victims of sexual assault, and there are many different victims. She concluded by saying the main thing she wanted to point out is the "different sides of sexual predators and how we're going to define them and who is going to be involved in that process." Number 316 CHAIRMAN GREEN suggested that Ms. Daniels submit any concepts. He then called on Ms. Carpeneti. Number 320 ANNE D. CARPENETI from the Department of Law spoke again on HB 252. She said it is obviously time to give increased scrutiny to sex offender registration. House Bill 252 is similar to the Governor's bill in many ways, and it goes a long way towards satisfying the federal requirements of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offenders Registration Act. MS. CARPENETI expressed concern about two areas of the bill. The first, mentioned earlier, is raising to a class C felony the offense of failing to register, which also includes under the bill failure to file a quarterly address verification notice; that can be as minor as failing to put in the mailbox a return receipt verifying that one's address is the same as it was 90 days before. MS. CARPENETI explained, "We believe that a class A misdemeanor, which is the maximum one year in jail and a significant fine, strikes a reasonable balance between the need to have serious consequences for the failure to register, or to file your quarterly address verification notice, and the possibility of building up charges on a person .... You should remember that ... a C felony would be a guaranteed presumptive term, because this will be the second conviction for a felony offense; so that's a two-year presumptive sentence." MS. CARPENETI referred to page 4 and said the other area of concern relates to Section 8 of the bill, which provides that filing incorrect information in the registration statement would be a perjury offense. Present law provides that filing incorrect information is unsworn falsification, a class A misdemeanor. Ms. Carpeneti said this seems to be a reasonable hammer over a person to file accurate information. Perjury is a class D felony, which would result in a presumptive term of four years in jail, because this will be a second felony offense. Ms. Carpeneti specified that those were their major concerns with this particular version of the sex offender registration bill. Number 370 MS. CARPENETI explained that custodial interference is not covered under the sex offender registration program; it is an affirmative defense to kidnapping when a relative of a child under 18 takes custody of the child with the primary intent of taking custody. It would not fall under kidnapping in the first degree, which is required to be registered under the Wetterling Act unless it does fall into this custodial interference category. CHAIRMAN GREEN indicated it falls under Title 11. Number 380 JANICE LIENHART, Victims for Justice, came forward to testify, saying they are supportive of this issue. She suggested that from the victims' point of view, in terms of preventing crime, predators should never get out of jail. "And every time they get out, you feel sad because you realize there's going to be other victims," she said. "I mean, we don't work with sexual assault, but we hear so many terror stories of what it's been like when someone has violated you. And when you're working with victims, ... one of the most important thing[s] you have to do is you have to learn to walk through your pain. You don't avoid it. You have to walk through it. And I honestly feel that when we're working with criminals, we need to use that approach, because we make excuses for them, we provide all these loopholes for them, and our laws are made to protect them because they don't want to put an innocent person in jail. And it often works to the adverse, and of course the victim is the one that suffers the most." MS. LIENHART said she is well aware of these sexual predators and has heard tales about them. They admit they are predators, and they have ways of manipulating people that others can't even begin to think about. She believes that a necessary approach, applicable to most of our crime issues, is getting the communities involved. She suggested having a "really incredible education program" to make the communities aware of how sex offenders manipulate and how dangerous they are, beyond the Department of Corrections just sending a letter; she suggested the department could even have sex offenders on television telling people what they actually do. She indicated that with such education in the communities, people would be prepared to deal with the predators. MS. LIENHART acknowledged that this probably couldn't be made into a law because of rights. She stated, "But somehow, those guys have to be accountable, they have to face the music by facing their community instead of letting a letter do it, so they never have to be seen and kind of can disguise themselves." She suggested if people can identify them and know them, and be aware of how manipulative they are, the predators won't get away with anything. "And your kids will be safer because the kids will ... avoid him when he gets too nice," she concluded. Number 432 KIMBERLEE VANDERHOOF testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. Referring to Barbara Brink's testimony and the indication that about 3.5 percent of those whose names were published in Washington were harassed, Ms. Vanderhoof noted that harassment is also a crime. If convicted sex offenders are harassed, chances are they would be able to identify the people harassing them or provide law enforcement with enough information to prosecute those people with harassment. She suggested that providing names in a public forum, including the Internet specifically, will give "our community and Fairbanks" a real sense of empowerment for the public to protect itself. MS. VANDERHOOF continued, "Right now, we only have three investigators assigned to sex crimes, and it's a major concern of mine that we're talking about overburdening a system here in Fairbanks that really needs more funding. If we're going to make failure to register a class C felony, what are we going to do about the Department of Corrections, who's already housing inmates in the chapel, that is already overcrowded and overburdened? I think that making it a class C felony is going to throw straw on a camel's back when the camel is already on its knees." REPRESENTATIVE JAMES informed listeners that she had to leave. Number 567 SUZANNE MANNIKKO came forward to testify. Referring to registration on the Internet, she pointed out that when someone doesn't want to be found by a process server, for instance, that person gives vague addresses. She provided examples from a list that she had marked. A sex offender who lived near her had provided a vague address, 1.1 mile on her own road, despite the fact that everyone living on that road has a specific address. She travels that road daily; at that spot, there is a "conical box and a vacant lot" on one side of the road and 20 acres of undeveloped land on the other side. Furthermore, when she'd pulled up this person's registration by zip code, a second registration listed his physical address as a post office box. Ms. Mannikko stated, "I have several of these sex offenders who are doing this. Well, law enforcement may have privy to more information than I do, but this is unacceptable." MS. MANNIKKO said she and her sister are for this bill, but they feel it is just a small step in a long step that needs to be taken. She discussed a sexual predator, Charles Jacobs (ph), who'd conned children by providing candy and toys. In 1981, Mr. Jacobs had a felony offense involving children; between 1981 and 1992, he was charged with dangerous drugs, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assault; and in 1992, he was charged with sexual assault and carnal felony abuse involving children. MS. MANNIKKO said she'd gone to the courthouse to see what the district attorney (DA) is recommending for a sentence for Mr. Jacobs. A trial had been planned for July, but the defendant changed his plea. Ms. Mannikko stated, "So now the DA makes a deal with this man for a third-time felon, one count, ten year maximum. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. ... Second count, two years." Noting that this man would be sentenced on November 7, Ms. Mannikko indicated the offender was looking at maybe ten years; with "good time and whatever," he'd serve less than that. MS. MANNIKKO stated, "And this is just one of the most horrible crimes against our children. This crime destroys children's souls, and we've got to stop it. The recidivism rate, we know how high it is. ... We see it in the paper every day. We have to find the money to put these people away. We need to change our priorities and find the funds to put these terrible people away." Number 551 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE indicated that although a big enough sentence may be a threat to these people, he doesn't believe that is the case. First, they don't believe they'll be caught. And second, the threat hasn't bothered them, because they re-offend. Representative Bunde stated, "We simply must warehouse some of these people." He said for protection of the public, he knows of no other solution that doesn't involve an operation. MS. MANNIKKO commented, "This man has proved that he has a mental illness. And our state can come up with a law to put these people away. The Supreme Court has handed that down to us; we can determine them mentally ill and put them away where they need to be, because you know what this does to families. It destroys them, not only the children's lives [but also] the mother that has to pick up the pieces and put these little lives back together again." CHAIRMAN GREEN suggested that perhaps the seemingly barbaric operation isn't so barbaric after all. He advised members that they would take this issue up again when the legislature reconvenes in Juneau. One person had some potential amendments, and there would be a proposed committee substitute. Number 607 "BILLIE" came forward to testify, specifying that she would provide only that name because she is the mother of a sex offender and the grandmother of a victim. She and her husband, who was with her, are 35-year residents of Alaska; she is a retired state employee. Billie recounted her family's story, sometimes tearfully. When their son had come to them and told them that he had touched his daughter inappropriately, they were very angry but decided not to let their anger become destructive. "This was a family in trouble that needed help," she said. "We encouraged our son and his family and helped them get into counseling, for their mental health's sake." [Ends mid-speech because of tape change.] TAPE 97-84, SIDE A Number 006 BILLIE indicated her son knew that his spouse could not survive in their home while he was in jail. So they sold it, and he got them established in a smaller place. They also got into counseling. And her son did go to jail, to the Palmer Correctional Center. While he was there, Billie and her husband helped their son's spouse continue in college. Billie stated, "By her very careful budgeting, her student loan, her part-time job, our help from our retirement income, and my shopping sales for food and clothing for her and the children, she got through that period without having to go on welfare. We were determined she would not go on welfare." BILLIE said when her son was released, they persuaded him with some difficulty to move back home and return to college. The state had said he would have no contact with his children, although he had contact with his spouse because of legal affairs and other things they had to attend to. Previously, he'd dropped out of college because their youngest child needed four operations, and the expense had not allowed him to go to college. BILLIE reported that her son and his spouse now live separately, he in his parents' home and she in the other home. Between them, their part-time jobs and their student loans, they'd supported their children and pursued their degrees. Both completed their degrees; their children got to see their mom and dad graduate in the same year, in the same ceremony. Both got good positions, with the father's position ensuring the children's college education. Number 028 BILLIE stated, "My granddaughter, her mother saw that she stayed active. She was in counseling. We gave her love and support. We did not want this situation to become a lifelong thing; we wanted to come out of it healthy mentally. This family did. And we banded together to do that. My granddaughter excelled in the sport of her choice; she won trophies. My son, his spouse and that daughter went into counseling together after his release, so that he would have access to his children. He had a younger child that didn't know what happened to dad; he just dropped out of the scene. `Where is my dad? Where is my dad?' The state agreed for him to have visiting rights with the kids, with his spouse as a third party, and this was a good situation. A good situation." BILLIE continued, "Then, in December when this thing happened in Fairbanks, you know, the incident with the child, (indisc.), his parole officer ... called him and told him there would be absolutely no contact with the children whatsoever. And it hit him like a brick wall. Now, my son did not rape his daughter. He inappropriately touched her. He knew they needed counseling; he sacrificed his home to get that counseling. Then when Internet came on line, I saw that in the paper and I panicked. I called Sean Parnell, my Senator, and I told him the same situation I'm telling you. And I said, `Now my son will not be able to hold his job; he'll have to go back to being a carpenter, and there will go his children's education.' And Sean said, `No, hold on. Hold on.'" Number 073 BILLIE said she doesn't know how much thought was given to the Internet listings. As she understood it, a "PTA mom" had wanted access so that when her child or children went to Fairbanks, Kenai or elsewhere for a sporting event, she could access the person's home where her child was going to stay. Billie said that information was already available to the Alaska State Troopers. She told how her own teenage granddaughter's friends can readily pull up the Internet and see her dad on there. Billie said her granddaughter has lost many friends and has dropped out of sports. The boys treat her differently. Although her mother transferred her to another school, the Internet is there. BILLIE advised members that her son hasn't lived in her home for almost two years. Since the listings on the Internet, she has had numerous phone calls where no one answered, and truck tires have run across the corner of her lawn. She'd lived in that home for 15 years without a problem before. And she doesn't believe it is anybody from her neighborhood, because they are "grandma and grandpa to all the kids in the neighborhood." BILLIE said her son lived with them almost three years. He went to work, came home and spent a lot of time on the computer. If any neighborhood kids happened to come in, he never came out of his bedroom, because he was under guidance: no children under 16. Nor did he go to Thanksgiving or Christmas get-togethers for their large family, because there were children under 16. "He has abided by every rule that has been put on him," Billie stated. BILLIE said she believes there are many teenagers in her granddaughter's situation, whose dads are on the Internet. If the teenagers are in a computer lab and some kid decides to pull this up on the computer, that child is victimized again. Billie said her granddaughter's brother has been in many fights over the abuse that other kids have given her granddaughter because of this. BILLIE stated, "Now, this is looking at it from the standpoint of an offender and a victim in the same family. And this family has bound together to come through this. My husband says that in his 75 years, and my 70 years, we've been through a lot and we are tempered steel and we will get through it. But my granddaughter is not tempered steel. And she is being continually victimized by the Internet. Almost all teenagers have computers now, just like every home has a TV." BILLIE suggested there should be some level of abuse that determines whether these people are listed on the Internet or for other public access. The Alaska State Troopers office maintains a list; so do probation officers, who are in communication and know where these people live and work. These people are required to report when they move and to where. Billie again discussed her son, a first-time nonviolent offender who has complied with everything required, who was in voluntary counseling before ever going to the correctional facility and who has been in state- approved sexual counseling ever since he got out. She said he has a short time to go on his probation, and he has abided by every rule, including not contacting his kids since last December. Number 130 BILLIE stated, "And it hurts. ... I don't know about all these other people that molest multiple kids and whatnot. I only know that in our family, we have had a tragedy. We have bound together to take care of it. And we're going to take care of it. But my granddaughter is going to be continually victimized, for 15 years, if he's on that Internet, she and many, many other children that are victims of incest." BILLIE said she knows that legislators struggle with laws, trying to do the best and protect everybody. She stated, "But surely there is some way you can work out where these first offenders, nonviolent situations, are not put on public access for the sake of these children, victims. The fact that we do not want this to continue into future generations, like you said they go, that's why we're having the counseling, why ... our son's still in counseling, why our granddaughter went in counseling. We do not want this to further itself." BILLIE suggested that with public notification, troopers going door-to-door, and mailing out letters and lists, there may be abuse. She believes that if letters had been circulated within a three-block radius while her son lived with her for three years, they couldn't have produced the success story they had. The troopers had his information, and anybody who needed it could have gone there. Billie asked, "How are these people going to rehabilitate? Where are they going to live? How are they going to get jobs? How are they going to keep jobs to support their families? And if they can't support their families, then they become a deadbeat dad or a deadbeat mom or whatever, and they're in the second crunch. I don't know the solution, but I wanted you to know from another person's perspective." She expressed concern about how this will affect her own son's job. Number 176 CHAIRMAN GREEN thanked Billie and said it must have taken a tremendous amount of courage for her to come there and speak. He said the committee would certainly concur that there perhaps should be some degree of notification; here was a man who voluntarily came forward, rather than being caught. He assured Billie that they would consider her testimony seriously, noting that the bill's sponsor and the sponsor of HB 273 had both heard her comments. He then thanked participants. (HB 252 was held over.) CHAIRMAN GREEN called a brief at-ease, then called the meeting back to order. HB 273 - NOTIFY COMMUNITY ABOUT SEX OFFENDERS [Contains discussion relating to HB 252.] Number 202 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the next item of business, House Bill No. 273, "An Act relating to notification of the public concerning sex offenders." Number 208 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK, sponsor, read from the sponsor statement: "The purpose of this legislation is to provide a mechanism for families to better protect their children from those within our society who would prey upon them. The fact of the matter is Alaska is becoming one of the worst places in the nation to raise young children. The incidence of child abuse and molestation is among the highest in the nation, and I think as legislators we need to do something to change that. "House Bill 273 will require the state to notify people whenever a convicted sexual predator moves into their neighborhood. This may cause an increased burden upon those state agencies responsible for maintaining contact with paroled offenders; however, as an incident in Anchorage this past April shows, it is important that families have advanced warning in any situation where their children may be at risk. "And I hope you can join me in getting behind House Bill 273 in an effort to protect Alaska's children. There is a lot of work to be done, but by working together along with those state agencies involved, I believe we can provide safe neighborhoods for our children." Number 230 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK advised members that HB 273 amends an existing statute by adding a new section. She referred to page 1, line 13, which says, "(C) provide notice of the name and address of a sex offender and the crime for which the sex offender was convicted to (i) each residence and business within a one-mile radius of the address where the sex offender resides in a rural area and within a three-square-block area of the address where the sex offender resides in an urban area". Representative Masek reported that it will also notify the superintendent of the school district in which the sex offender resides, as well as other persons the department determines appropriate to notify. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK expressed her desire to work with colleagues here in the legislature and with state agencies to make this a better bill. She mentioned a possible committee substitute and amendments, and she stated her willingness to work towards any needed changes. She advised members that Eddie Grasser could answer technical questions. Number 250 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether Representative Masek was familiar with HB 252, which the committee had also heard that day. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK said yes, she'd listened to the testimony. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that HB 252 also amends subsection (C) and adds subsection (D) as well, although it doesn't "go to the specificity" that this does, such as personal notification of everyone within a nine-square-block area or within one mile in a rural area. He also referred to testimony on HB 252 by "Billie." REPRESENTATIVE MASEK confirmed that she had heard that testimony. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether Representative Masek feels that this bill should apply to anyone, including the case cited by Billie, whose son had come forward voluntarily and then accomplished those things that society said he had to do. Chairman Green stated his understanding that Billie's primary concern is notification on the Internet, which obviously can be found by anyone. He suggested that Representative Masek obviously wants neighborhoods to be protected or at least aware. Number 270 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK explained that she lives in an "urban setting" in a rural area. Her son and other neighborhood children live there and go to the school bus; residents hadn't realized a sex offender lives within walking distance of that bus stop. When the parents found out, they took more precautions to protect their children. Representative Masek acknowledged there may be different classes of offenders. She specified that she is looking at those that are more dangerous to society and more dangerous to strangers such as the kids out walking on the streets. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated his understanding that more than half of the offenses occur within families, as they'd just heard in discussion of HB 252, or by someone personally known by the child. He expressed concern that if they went to this extent to notify this nine-square-block area, there may still be a risk when the child gets on the bus, goes downtown to a movie, and so forth. He asked whether notification in the neighborhood would make any major difference. For example, the offense could be by "Uncle John," who lives across town. He clarified that he was trying to determine whether these offenses are done by people within or outside of the neighborhood. Number 305 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK referred to an incident that April in Anchorage, in Mountain View, which involved children in a laundromat. She said that had the parents known an offender lived in that apartment complex, they'd have paid more special attention to their children. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked the reason for the nine-square-block size. For example, were most of the offenses, if they occurred within a neighborhood, within a three-block area? REPRESENTATIVE MASEK answered that it was modeled after the Louisiana law. Number 326 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER indicated he had a similar question: Is there a correlation between offenses and the residence of the offender? He said otherwise, this may be helpful but wouldn't eliminate such offenses. He mentioned the need to define "predator" in order to do everything possible to track, identify and publicize those people, without having others who don't fall within that definition be unnecessarily harassed for the rest of their lives. He offered to work with the sponsor to that end. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK said she believes it is important for the public to know that there is a predator and that there is a definition relating to different classifications. Number 372 EDDIE GRASSER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Masek, stated his understanding that Representative Masek's bill intends to notify a neighborhood when someone who has been convicted, and who is getting out of prison, moves into that neighborhood. They'd already know that a person is an offender. Mr. Grasser indicated the sponsor's office had gone through many reports, and there seems to be a debatable question about the levels. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER advised members that he has some background in this area. He stated, "It's been my experience, limited as it has been, that the predator that we're trying to really get at here is not going to offend within three blocks of his residence. There will be some that will, no doubt about it. But the most extreme - and I don't mind using his name, Chico Rodriguez (ph) - that guy is manipulative, is clever, is going to do all the kinds of things to subvert any particular thing that we would try to do halfway. That's the guy, as far as I'm concerned, that ought to have his picture on every telephone pole in Anchorage. Of course, we can't do that .... But at the other end of the extreme, ... somebody who got nailed for indecent exposure because they took a leak at the wrong time shouldn't be dropped into this net." MR. GRASSER noted that HB 273 was introduced at the end of session. Since then, they'd talked to the commissioner's office and the Department of Public Safety. The sponsor's office had come up with a whole list of questions that aren't necessarily addressed in the bill right now; they are working to try to find answers, and they would try to work with the Department of Public Safety to that end. MR. GRASSER said some of the questions they'd raised themselves address concerns raised by Billie in discussion of HB 252 that day. Those include what level of offender they want to notify the community about, how long the offender will remain on the notification list, and what a resident is. For example, does the owner of an empty lot require notification? Should each household be notified, or just the president of a homeowners association? Mr. Grasser said they have a whole page of questions that they need to answer themselves. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether they were planning a committee substitute. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK said yes. Number 392 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE indicated his questions could wait until the sponsor's own questions were answered. He suggested one rural mile in the Louisiana model may not translate well to one mile in Alaska. He brought up costs and said he'd be very interested in seeing the fiscal note. He concurred with the desire to get at the "really bad guys" without victimizing people who had made a single mistake. Number 407 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ also expressed interest in seeing the fiscal note, suggesting it may be a well-intentioned idea that, unless funded adequately, would have a consequence to other aspects of law enforcement. While troopers provided notice, at the same time they'd be unable to investigate other crimes, which would be problematic unless this is funded adequately. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said another concern is that it seems to require that the state assume an affirmative duty to notify people in an area. He asked, "And if the state fails for some reason - someone moves in, someone's not home - to provide notice, and there is some kind of assault that occurs subsequently, would that subject the state to a suit? And what would the potential ramifications of that suit be?" Number 423 MR. GRASSER said that is one of the questions they'd written down. Number 431 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK advised members that they would come back to the committee, probably in January, with a proposed committee substitute and answers to the questions. Number 442 TED BACHMAN, Captain, Division of Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public Safety, came forward to testify, saying most of the practical issues had been raised already. He thanked committee members for their comments, which he believes are right on point. He stated, "We certainly don't mean to be at all obstructionist ... in this process. We certainly support the public safety aspect of it. But when we try to apply this as a practical matter, it certainly can be very, very expensive ... and would be a tremendous drain on our present resources. So we don't have a fiscal note presently, and we would like to understand better, through response to some of the questions that we've raised, what will ultimately be intended by this legislation, so that we can provide you with a clearer idea of what the costs might be." Number 464 BARBARA BRINK, Director, Public Defender Agency, Department of Administration, came forward to testify, noting her agreement with Representative Porter in the idea of making the "net" smaller. She said the trend in registration and notification statutes nationwide is certainly in that direction. She'd recently read a report from the U.S. Department of Justice on sex offender community notification; the increasing trend is to establish some sort of tier or level system to try to identify those most seriously at risk for re-offending. For example, there is a tier system in the states of Washington, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon and Tennessee that provides a first tier, low-risk, where information only goes to law enforcement; the second tier, medium-risk, goes to selected organizations such as community councils and schools; and the third tier, the highest risk of re-offending, goes to everybody in the community. MS. BRINK referred to testimony about how there could be a wide variety of types of offenders. She said there are criteria established in these states for trying to determine that risk. The low-level offenders would be those who had "a nonviolent incident, a single incident, in the family setting." Level two encompasses a situation outside of the family setting, multiple offenses, or a violent offense. And level three, the most serious, involves a history of predatory sexual crimes, a history of violent offenses, or even an expressed desire to continue in that behavior. MS. BRINK concluded, "So there have been efforts by other states to really deal with that target population where community notification is effective. And I urge this committee to, if we are going to construct (indisc.) like this, to really limit it to those people in the population where this is going to help." CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether anyone else wished to comment, then concluded the hearing. (HB 273 was held over.) ADJOURNMENT Number 505 CHAIRMAN GREEN adjourned the House Judiciary Standing Committee meeting.