Concerns raised over Parnell's crime bill

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell’s crime bill is raising legal concerns.

The bill, HB73 in the House and SB22 in the Senate, would allow investigators to intercept private communications in sex trafficking cases and strengthen sentencing laws in child pornography and sex trafficking cases. It also would allow judges to order GPS tracking of people with protective orders against them. It is a continuation of the Parnell administration’s effort to crack down on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Some of the language in the bill could have unintended consequences if it were to pass as currently written, Quinlan Steiner, head of the Alaska public defender agency, said in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Under certain circumstances, the court could require someone accused in a civil court to wear and pay for a GPS monitoring system, even when they might not be able to afford one, Steiner said.

The bill’s expansion of the offenses that would require someone to register as a sex offender might go too far as well, Steiner said.

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, in a letter to the committee said the bill raises constitutional concerns.

“While the ACLU of Alaska does not contest the State’s ability and duty to pass laws to protect public safety, as drafted, SB22 goes far outside this permissible sphere,” Mittman said in the letter. Some provisions in the bill “present substantial Constitutional problems and would entangle the state in lengthy, costly, and needless litigation, should SB22 pass as currently written,” he said.

Mittman also said the fiscal note attached to the bill is misleading, and that some of the provisions could be costly for the judicial system.

“The imposition of enormous drains on the economic resources of the state is often the result of proposed statutory revisions such as are set forth in SB 22,” Mittman said in the letter. “Fiscal notes prepared by many affected state agencies list the costs as ‘undetermined,’ because no one knows exactly how much each provision of the law will cost.”

Both the House and Senate Judiciary committees heard and held the respective bills Monday.






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