News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections
Commercial fishing remains Alaska’s largest and most dangerous occupation, according to the US Coast Guard. Studies of incidents at sea also show that female crew members are less likely to survive abandon ship situations in Alaska than their male counterparts. One of the likely reasons is that female crew members are often not “in the loop” as much as their male counterparts in terms of safety procedures. In Ketchikan, a large number of jobs are in the maritime industry and Ketchikan Correctional Center is committed to providing maritime safety education programs through the Alaska Maritime Safety Education Association (AMSEA). During a recent 18 hour AMSEA safety class, instructor Dug Jensen taught a class for female inmates. Jensen said the class was particularly effective because the female inmates were involved in all parts in the abandon ship, onboard fire and flooding drills, including ship handling, emergency communication, life raft deployment and person in the water rescues. The female inmates gained a comprehensive knowledge of emergency situations and procedures that will help them if they face danger on the high sea, according to Jensen.
— Superintendent Jessica Mathews
The Akeela Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program (RSAT) held a graduation at the Palmer Correctional Center (PCC) medium facility October 30. PCC staff, friends, and family were in attendance to honor the graduation of thirty (30) inmates. Graduates included: (From left to right) Front Row: James Culp, Nikko Adams, William Welsh, Patrick Kinzy, Leslie Clark, Corey Thompson, Justin Snyder Back Row: Kyle Starr, Justin Kennedy, Jacques Lisby, Brett White, Derrik Williams, Dean Ranstead, Robert McComas, Jason Gray, Aaron Thomas, Joseph Gray, Byron Peters, Kenneth Smith, John Hamilton, Timothy Russell, Shane Foley, Roger Boshears, Robert Sugar, Johnny Havird, Joseph Allen, Rick Burroughs.
Palmer Correctional Center staff joined together to raise a total of $846.56 for the 2014 SHARE Campaign. Office Assistants Renee Jensen and Tracy Ivory Grasty led the campaign by organizing multiple bake sales, a potato bake, a silent auction, and a pizza sale. The PCC staff generously donated their time and culinary skills for the bake sale. The potatoes were donated from the Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm. The PCC kitchen staff and inmates assisted in expertly preparing the spuds for consumption. Ms. Jensen and Ms. Grasty, along with Sgt. Robert Hall, donated multiple items for the silent auction. “PCC staff had a wonderful time outbidding each other on all of the excellent donations! A special thanks goes to Sgt. Hall for donating two handmade plaques depicting the teamwork and dedication that staff at PCC exemplifies,” said Superintendent Tomi Anderson. (The plaque can be seen in the accompanying photo.)
Superintendent Lucy Dittmar began her career with the Department of Corrections in 1994 at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. From 1994-2003 Dittmar worked as a as a floor officer, disciplinary officer, records officer and standards officer. In November, 2002 Dittmar took a five-month sabbatical to fight nasal pharyngeal carcinoma. With the cancer defeated, Dittmar returned in May 2003, working inn records, and in July 2004, Dittmar promoted to the Records/Training/Security/Compliance Sgt. In 2005, Dittmar returned to manage a shift of four officers. Dittmar promoted to Lieutenant in April, 2008 and was named Superintendent in May, 2013. “I have enjoyed working for the Department of Correction and have enjoyed living in Nome for the last 20 years,” Dittmar said. “I don’t think I would have recovered from the cancer treatment as well as I did, if I did not have to go back to work. Working took my mind off the challenges that cancer and cancer treatment bring to your life and I think because I had to get back on my feet and manage a multitude of duties, I did not have time to focus deeply on the problems that I would face throughout recovery.”
An article in the Fairbanks News-Miner about Ben Pierce, a nine-year old boy from Texas who was losing his eyesight due to a medical condition, grabbed the attention of PO II Amber Terrill in the Fairbanks Probation Office. Ben’s wish, the article explained, was to come to Alaska and see the northern lights. Being a mother of two young boys, PO Terrill couldn’t help to think that being greeted by police officers would be one of the coolest experiences and hopefully a lasting visual memory to store for a lifetime. She contacted local agencies including the Fairbanks Police Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers who were all more than willing and eager to have at least one if not more of their uniformed personnel at the airport when this little boy and his family arrived.
As the crowd grew at the airport to welcome Ben and his family, so did the uniformed presence. “It was an amazing and heartwarming sight to see not only a line of over a dozen uniformed law enforcement officers, but also the excited community members who thought that their presence was “Awesome” PO Terrill said. “The true icing on the cake though was seeing Ben’s face light up when each officer and trooper lined up to meet him and shake his hand. The true reward to the day was knowing in the end the community of Fairbanks and its local and state law enforcement officers all helped this little boy have an amazing welcome and a visual memory that will last forever.”
Sgt. Mark Olson escorted six inmates from Goose Creek Correctional Center via Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm to the Big Lake Lions Recreation Center to assist in getting the facility ready for the upcoming hockey and community ice-skating season. The men removed stains and polished the dasher boards and Plexiglas, cleaned and organized ice skates, swept and mopped, and picked up trash. The men enjoyed getting out of their normal routine to perform this service benefitting the community of Big Lake. The work crew service was performed Oct. 10-15.