Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/23/2020 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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Audio Topic
01:11:11 PM Start
01:12:01 PM HB307
01:27:56 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
<Pending Referral>
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 307(JUD) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 23, 2020                                                                                         
                           1:11 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Matt Claman, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Harriet Drummond [via teleconference]                                                                            
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Laddie Shaw                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 307                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to living conditions for prisoners."                                                                           
     - MOVED CSHB 307(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 307                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EXPANDING PRISONER ACCESS TO COMPUTERS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): STATE AFFAIRS                                                                                                       
03/05/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/05/20       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/10/20       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/10/20       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/10/20       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/12/20       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/12/20       (H)       Moved CSHB 307(STA) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/12/20       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/13/20       (H)       STA RPT CS(STA) 7DP                                                                                    
03/13/20       (H)       DP: VANCE, HOPKINS, THOMPSON, SHAW,                                                                    
                         STORY, FIELDS, KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                          
03/23/20       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
KELLY HOWELL,  Special Assistant to  the Commissioner/Legislative                                                               
Department of Corrections                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided  information and answered questions                                                             
during the  hearing on  HB 307 specific  to a  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB   307,  Version  31-LS1663\U,  Radford,                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:11:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MATT  CLAMAN called the House  Judiciary Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to order  at 1:11  p.m.   Representatives Claman,  Kopp,                                                               
Drummond  [via teleconference],  and Stutes  were present  at the                                                               
call to  order.  Representative  Shaw arrived as the  meeting was                                                               
in progress.                                                                                                                    
         HB 307-EXPANDING PRISONER ACCESS TO COMPUTERS                                                                      
1:12:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 307,  "An Act relating  to living  conditions for                                                               
prisoners."  [Before the committee was CSHB 307(STA).]                                                                          
CHAIR  CLAMAN  announced  that the  committee  would  consider  a                                                               
proposed  committee  substitute (CS)  for  HB  307, [Version  31-                                                               
LS1663\U,  Radford,  3/19/20,  ("Version  U").    Version  U  was                                                               
adopted as a work draft following Ms. Howell's testimony.]                                                                      
1:12:33 PM                                                                                                                    
KELLY HOWELL,  Special Assistant to  the Commissioner/Legislative                                                               
Liaison,   Department   of  Corrections,   provided   information                                                               
regarding  HB   307  and  related   to  the   proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB   307,  Version  31-LS1663\U,  Radford,                                                               
3/19/20.  She  stated that [HB 307, Version U]  would address two                                                               
critical  areas  related  to   a  prisoner's  rehabilitation  and                                                               
reentry needs:   the expansion  of approved purposes for  which a                                                               
prisoner  may use  a computer  and the  assurance that  prisoners                                                               
have  a valid  form of  identification upon  their release.   She                                                               
explained that  [HB 307,  Version U] would  amend the  section of                                                               
statute  that  relates to  living  conditions  for prisoners,  by                                                               
removing  the   restriction  that   prohibits  a   prisoner  from                                                               
possessing a computer in his/her  cell and expanding the approved                                                               
purposes  for which  a prisoner  may  use a  computer to  include                                                               
facilitation of:   the prisoner's rehabilitation,  the prisoners                                                                
compliance  with a  reentry plan  or case  plan, access  to legal                                                               
reference materials, visitation, and health care.                                                                               
MS.  HOWELL  stated  that  these changes  would  not  only  allow                                                               
prisoners   to  gain   or  maintain   proficiency  with   current                                                               
technology to  assist with and  support their  rehabilitation and                                                               
reentry  needs  and expand  their  positive  social supports  but                                                               
would  also   aid  in  reducing   contraband  brought   into  the                                                               
facilities.    She  explained that  expanded  use  of  technology                                                               
affords  inmates  the  ability  to  engage  in  programming  that                                                               
supports  their  rehabilitation  and  reentry,  such  as  general                                                               
educational  development (GED)  classes and  testing, educational                                                               
curricula, employment  and life skills assessments  and training,                                                               
and  web-based   visitation  with  family  and   other  prosocial                                                               
community members.   Ms. Howell  stated that  allowing visitation                                                               
through  web-based  programming  can reduce  contact  visitation,                                                               
thus reducing  opportunities for  the introduction  of contraband                                                               
into secure  facilities.  She  said that for inmates  with family                                                               
members in  rural Alaska, this could  provide a means to  see and                                                               
visit  with incarcerated  family  members  without incurring  the                                                               
cost of travel.                                                                                                                 
MS.  HOWELL  stated  that  Medicaid  has  identified  that  paper                                                               
applications are slow  to process and inefficient,  and under [HB
307,  Version U]  inmates would  have increased  participation in                                                               
their release planning  by being able to complete  their own web-                                                               
based  applications  prior to  their  release,  which would  also                                                               
serve  to reduce  paper applications  awaiting review  by another                                                               
department.   She said  that the provision  of computers  for law                                                               
library use  would also reduce  or possibly eliminate the  use of                                                               
typewriters in  jail, which  are costly  to repair  and currently                                                               
mandated to be available to inmates  to work on legal research in                                                               
the law of library.                                                                                                             
MS.  HOWELL stated  that having  a valid  form of  identification                                                               
upon  release is  critical to  a prisoner's  reentry success,  as                                                               
almost everything a  person needs to do upon  release from prison                                                               
requires identification,  including obtaining  employment, taking                                                               
a  drug  test,  securing  housing,  and  attending  court-ordered                                                               
counseling.   She said that  some of the people  who participated                                                               
in one of  several reentry simulations across the  state may have                                                               
experienced  this  for themselves.    She  stated that  [HB  307,                                                               
Version U] would ensure that  the Department of Corrections (DOC)                                                               
and the Department  of Administration (DOA) would  work to ensure                                                               
that anyone serving  an active term of imprisonment  of more than                                                               
120  days has  a valid  form of  identification before  he/she is                                                               
released.  She commented that  as heard in many other committees,                                                               
the vast majority of prisoners  in DOC's custody will be released                                                               
back  into the  community, and  [HB  307, Version  U] would  make                                                               
meaningful   changes  to   help   ensure   persons  leaving   the                                                               
department's  custody  are better  equipped  for  success on  the                                                               
outside.   She encouraged  a prompt and  favorable action  on the                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
1:16:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  asked Ms. Howell  how [HB 307,  Version U]                                                               
would reduce contraband being brought into facilities.                                                                          
MS.  HOWELL  answered that  one  of  the  hopes of  the  proposed                                                               
legislation is  that it would  allow prisoners to  use technology                                                               
to conduct  visitation via the  web, and by reducing  the contact                                                               
of  person-to-person visitation,  the opportunity  for contraband                                                               
to be introduced into facilities would be reduced as well.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  remarked that  that makes good  sense, and                                                               
she asked whether there were  limitations on "web surfing" put on                                                               
the computers that  inmates use, so that inmates  can access only                                                               
certain websites.                                                                                                               
MS. HOWELL answered that the current  plan is to not allow use of                                                               
the Internet,  so computers  would be  monitored by  staff within                                                               
the institutions and most of  the programming would be preloaded;                                                               
any type of web-based application,  such as visitations, would be                                                               
monitored.   She  said that  [HB 307,  Version U]  is essentially                                                               
asking for  DOC to have  the ability to begin  implementing these                                                               
programs.    She  stated  that   there  are  still  some  obvious                                                               
scenarios  that would  need  to  be worked  out,  but should  the                                                               
proposed legislation pass, DOC would  have the ability to outline                                                               
and formalize  the different  methods by  which a  prisoner could                                                               
use a  computer.  She said  that at this point,  going online and                                                               
having unfettered access to the Internet is not envisioned.                                                                     
1:19:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND offered her  understanding that there was                                                               
no fiscal  note included with  the proposed legislation,  and she                                                               
asked whether the  computers that would be  allowed in prisoners'                                                               
cells  would  be  their  personal  property  or  department-owned                                                               
technology allowed into the prisoners' cells on a shared basis.                                                                 
MS.  HOWELL answered  that currently  technology such  as tablets                                                               
are  made available,  and there  is funding  in the  department's                                                               
budget to be  able to purchase a limited number  of tablets.  She                                                               
reiterated that  the department  was still  working out  how this                                                               
would work  in practice and  getting the  program in place.   She                                                               
said that whether it be  personal property or DOC property, there                                                               
should not be  significant, if any, fiscal impact  under [HB 307,                                                               
Version U].                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  offered   her  understanding  that  web                                                               
access  is  required  in order  to  have  [virtual]  face-to-face                                                               
technology operable on a computer.   She questioned whether there                                                               
was another way to do so.                                                                                                       
MS.  HOWELL  answered  that  DOC  has  been  exploring  available                                                               
technology,  and there  are certain  tablet computers  that allow                                                               
for  visitation remotely  through secure,  locked-down, web-based                                                               
software.   She  said that  if a  web-based application,  such as                                                               
Skype, were  to be used  through the  Internet, then it  would be                                                               
monitored by DOC  staff.  She clarified that [HB  307, Version U]                                                               
would provide  DOC the opportunity  to start looking at  what the                                                               
options are  in order  to select the  best technology  that would                                                               
keep  inmates and  staff safe  and  allow for  the expanded  uses                                                               
provided under the proposed legislation.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  remarked that school districts  have the                                                               
technology "down pat"  to limit access of  "unsavory websites" on                                                               
the  web,  and   she  suggested  that  DOC   contact  the  school                                                               
districts.   She pointed out  that the Anchorage  School District                                                               
is getting ready to distribute  20,000 "Chromebooks or laptops or                                                               
tablets" to  its students who  are currently  at home.   She said                                                               
that these devices  are already programmed to  keep students from                                                               
"wandering  around on  the Internet"  anywhere other  than "where                                                               
they're supposed to  be."  She expressed that DOC  would not have                                                               
to  look far  to find  secure  web-surfing technology,  as it  is                                                               
already being done with tens of thousands of students in Alaska.                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  for confirmation  of his  understanding that                                                               
DOC  would  be providing  supervision  for  electronic visits  in                                                               
prisons  in the  same  way that  in-person  visits are  currently                                                               
supervised, as  in there  are people  watching the  prisoners the                                                               
entire time.                                                                                                                    
1:24:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. HOWELL confirmed that is correct.                                                                                           
1:24:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  moved  to   adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for HB  307(JUD), Version  31-LS1663\U, Radford,                                                               
3/19/20, as  a work draft.   There being no objection,  Version U                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
1:24:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CLAMAN  opened public  testimony  on  HB 307,  Version  U.                                                               
After ascertaining that  there was no one who  wished to testify,                                                               
he closed public testimony.                                                                                                     
1:25:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked whether any  committee members  were thinking                                                               
of offering amendments  to HB 307, Version U.   He expressed that                                                               
his  interest  was to  waive  the  second  hearing and  move  the                                                               
proposed  legislation  from  committee.   He  commented  that  he                                                               
didn't sense any  objections to that idea.  He  explained that he                                                               
would call  an at-ease in order  to wait for the  required number                                                               
of committee  members to be present  in order to move  a bill out                                                               
of committee.                                                                                                                   
1:25:47 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 1:25 p.m. to 1:27 p.m.                                                                       
1:27:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  moved to report  CSHB 307(JUD),  Version 31-                                                               
LS1663\U,  Radford, 3/19/20,  out  of  committee with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection,   CSHB  307(JUD)  was  reported   from  the  House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
1:27:56 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing Committee  meeting  was  adjourned at  [1:28]                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 307 Work Draft Committee Substitute v. U 3.19.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Sponsor Statement v. A 3.9.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/10/2020 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/12/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Sectional Analysis v. U 3.23.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Summary of Changes v. A to v. U 3.23.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Supporting Document - Reentry Coalitions Letter 3.11.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSTA 3/12/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Fiscal Note DOC-IDO 3.6.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 307
HB 307 Fiscal Note DOA-DMV 3.21.2020.pdf HJUD 3/23/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 307