News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections
Earlier this month on a clear Sunday morning, four inmates entered a salon in Wasilla, Alaska, wearing yellow jump suits and iron leg chains. They left in the same attire. The only difference was now they could say they are professional barbers.
The Barber School is a journey that started over a year and a half ago at Goose Creek Correctional Center. It has proven to be a vehicle to success for inmates Adam Barger, John Samuelson, Jariss Black, and Terral Wright. They passed their written and practical application tests with extremely high scores.
The Board of Barbers & Hairdressers Chairwoman, Glenda Ledford, stated the Goose Creek barbers were a higher level of student than normal. So much so, that all three examiners agreed they would hire any of the students immediately. “That’s when I knew the program was working,” said Sergio Colgan, the Alaska licensed inmate barber instructor at Goose Creek.
The inmate-instructor played an intricate role in starting and organizing the barber school. Inmate Colgan models a disciplined work and study environment and encourages participants to demonstrate their work ethic and motivation to succeed upon release.
The curriculum was 18 months, which included hands on training, lecture, and book testing; all while conducting general population haircuts, Monday through Friday, mornings and afternoons for over 700 fellow inmates. By becoming a barber, the men are choosing a career that is a credible job choice. Barbers have the ability to be their own boss, set their own schedules, and with enough ambition, make above average wages.
One of the main goals for DOC is to offer reformative programming that will likely reduce recidivism. Goose Creek is off to great start in this endeavor and has already started their second group of student barbers. Becoming a barber is a creative way for future returning citizens to transition back into society and be a positive role model in the community.
“I’m happy to see these guys succeed. I want them to be better than the average barber walking the street; they have to be better,” said Colgan.
Lemon Creek Correctional Center Inmate Council president, Jack Earl, submitted photographs of completed memorial crosses to be donated to the Killisnoo Island Cemetery. The project, entitled “Remembrance & Honor” is not only an artistic expression, but also a personal representation of honor to so many. A copper plaque on each cross is engraved with the project title and the phrase “into Gods hands but not forgotten.” The intent of the project was to show that even though they are incarcerated, offenders have honor and want to give back to their communities.
From Lemon Creek Correctional Center's Superintendent Bruce Busby:
For selfless dedication to the Department of Corrections, this facility, and for outstanding services above and beyond the call of duty, it is my honor to present Sgt. Bobby (Bo) Pierce with this award in recognition of his selection as Lemon Creek Correctional Center's 2015 Employee of the Year.
Sgt. Pierce was selected for this honor by a diverse group of peers, supervisors, subordinates, and administrative staff. This past year Sgt. Pierce was asked to shoulder an unprecedented level of responsibility, to which he responded with professionalism and a can-do attitude. Sgt. Pierce's tireless devotion and dedication to duty reflects great credit upon himself, this facility and the Department of Corrections.
Congratulations Sgt. Pierce!
Spring Creek Correctional Center has developed a strong partnership with the Seward Community. Over the past few months the inmates have been able to donate to Seward High School through fundraisers and hobby craft donations. The Booster club spearheaded by SCCC’s very own Sgt. Brian Morris approached the Vocation Department with a request to build a cabinet for the Athletic Department. SCCC’s newly graduated NCCER Carpentry Level One students built a 60” x48” x 24” cabinet to meet the needs of Seward HS. The cabinet will be put to immediate use for the high school Annual Seward Seahawk Classic! Merchandise will be sold to help support the Athletic Department for years to come. SCCC would like to thank the Seward Booster Club and SCCC Administration for making this all possible. “Measure twice cut once.”
Each year, Wildwood Correctional Complex selects its Employees of the Year. Nominations are submitted by the entire staff and selected by an employee selection committee. Employees are selected for demonstrated professional duty performances, service to the state and Wildwood Correctional Complex and the support and assistance provided to their fellow employees. Robert Hibpsham, Superintendent of Wildwood Correctional Complex announced this year's winners as Correctional Officer Paul Bell and Correctional Officer Lonnie Denney.
The two winners of the employee of the year award for 2015 are truly distinguished employees. Officer Bell, a 23 year Department of Corrections employee and Denney, a 12 year veteran of the department were selected for the award because they have been consistent, strong performers, both team players with good attitudes, a balanced demeanor, commitment to professionalism, and their ability to interact well with staff and prisoners alike.
Both Correctional Officer Bell and Denney are positive role models and greatly contribute to an effective work force and a positive work environment.
On January 27, 2016 starting at 10-3p.m. hours, families, veterans and other valley residents facing homelessness will have the opportunity to receive numerous services at the annual Mat-Su Valley Project Homeless Connect located at Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla. The prisoners at Palmer Correctional Center and a DOC staff member funded and donated items to this community outreach program.
The prisoners at the Medium Facility handcrafted crocheted items for the Mat-Su Valley Project Homeless Connect. The prisoners displayed compassion, caring, and kindness for others which are integral steps toward positive changes by donating these custom crafted items. Total donations: 250 hats, 250 scarves and 86 blankets.
The prisoners at the Minimum Facility handcrafted 20 crocheted toys for children. The Special Assistant II to the Commissioner, Mr. Phil Cole donated 250 hand warmers and polar-tech material, so the minimum prisoners could sew 19 fleece gloves for the Homeless Connect Project.