Governor Hails Passage of Domestic Violence and DNA Legislation
April 17, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed passage of SB 222 and SB 110, legislation that will strengthen Alaska’s laws concerning domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, child pornography and evidence retention.“Sexual assault and domestic violence crimes destroy individuals and families,” Governor Parnell said. “I appreciate the Legislature’s hard work on these important bills that will help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and deal more severely with criminals.” SB 222, introduced by the governor, creates a Class A misdemeanor for offensive touching that does not rise to the level of sexual assault in the first, second, or third degree. It also makes it a Class C felony to intentionally access child pornography on a computer. The legislation also provides that a person convicted of human trafficking or possession or distribution of child pornography may not be given a suspended imposition of sentence. SB 222 will also grant more discretion in sentencing defendants. Specifically, a judge could increase a sentence above the usual range if the defendant knew that the victim was vulnerable as a result of having consumed alcohol or drugs. HB 324, also introduced by the governor, has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting concurrence. The legislation is a revision of bail statutes. Significant provisions of the bill require persons charged with an unclassified or Class A felony and certain other crimes to bear the burden of proving conditions or bail amounts are sufficient to protect the public and reasonably assure their appearance in court. The bill would also prohibit a court from releasing a defendant found guilty of a sexual felony pending imposition of sentence or an appeal. HB 324 would also change from 24 to 48 hours the deadline for bringing a person before a judicial officer after arrest. This will result in better charging decisions, more coherent bail arguments, and ultimately fewer bail hearings. SB 110, sponsored by Senator Hollis French, is a product of a bipartisan effort with the Parnell administration. SB 110 sets new standards for evidence retention. Procedures for seeking post-conviction relief were adopted from HB 316, introduced by Governor Parnell. Additionally, SB 110 will improve the laws relating to the DNA databank and establish a task force to review issues related to evidence retention.