News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections
On August 1st the Department of Corrections Training Academy reached a milestone. Under the command of Lieutenant Jake Wyckoff, the Training Academy hosted the largest Prisoner Transport Academy to date. Twenty-eight candidates attended and successfully completed the course. To attend PTO training the officer candidates are nominated by their supervisors, selected by the institution and must pass a psychological exam. On the first day of class students are required to pass a physical standard test and shotgun qualification to remain in the Prisoner Transport Officer Academy. During the four weeks of training officers are exposed to a variety of information and skill sets directly related to their new responsibilities. Officers attending the PTO Academy work together to learn new skills and overcome difficulties while developing friendships that will last throughout their career. During the Academy student performance is constantly evaluated. It is with pride that we announce the Class Valedictorian for the Prisoner Transport Academy #25, Joseph Smith from Palmer Correctional Complex. Congratulations on a job well done.
— PO III Caroline Stevens
Ketchikan Correctional Center celebrated Probation Officer week on July 17 by having a grilled halibut barbeque for all staff, community members and area probation officers. The weather was fantastic and the event was much appreciated by the local probation offices.
— Superintendent Jessica Mathews
The Department of Corrections maintained a display booth at the annual Governor’s Picnics in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks and Juneau. The DOC booths featured displays of prisoner-grown produce (from Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm) and hand-crafted items from Palmer Correctional Center, Lemon Creek Correctional Center and Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. Thanks to input and assistance from numerous staff members, the booths were a success with a great deal of interaction with the community: from former prisoners to tourists from Australia.
Spring Creek Correctional Center recently conducted a banquet for prisoners and their families. It was a huge success as the Culinary Apprenticeship Program created a wonderful assortment of foods with a regional flair ranging from Filipino to traditional American style foods. Program participants and prisoner volunteers helped organize and prepare this event for over 250 people. It was a was a real testament to the efforts of the apprenticeship students and prisoner volunteers who helped with preparing the food, set up and logistics to run this event in concert with the kitchen staff. Of note is Kitchen Steward Robert Saxon whose talent focused on organizing not only this banquet but previous banquets and moving the apprenticeship program forward. He also orchestrated the highly successful “Iron Chef” competition among the culinary students to challenge the skills they learn in the program. The Spring Creek Program currently has 10 prisoners enrolled and it has graduated numerous prisoners with an AvTec Culinary Certificate over the past several years. This is a particularly noteworthy effort as Spring Creek continues to move forward in one of the facility’s missions of promoting rehabilitative programming for its population of long term sentenced felons.
Goose Creek Correctional Center has opened a Barber School. The goal of the program is to provide a career education to prisoners with a long-term goal of reducing recidivism in Alaska. Classes will be instructed by an inmate who is a licensed barber instructor, having earned his barber’s license while incarcerated. The program provides apprenticeship for five inmates per class. The inmate-instructor played an intricate role in the process and organization of the barber school. The program will encourage inmates to demonstrate their work ethic and motivation to succeed upon release. The curriculum is 16-18 months, which includes hands on training, lecture, and book testing. The Barber School will offer staff haircuts. By becoming a barber, the inmates 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, they can make above average wages. One of the main goals for DOC is to offer reformative programming that will likely reduce recidivism. Becoming a barber is a creative way for an inmate to transition back into society and play a positive role in the community. The excitement and expectations for the program are high.
On June 25th the women of Hiland Mountain Correctional Center ran and walked around the track, shot basketballs, ran three legged races and had fun participating in other activities, all in the rain. The occasion was the Third Annual “Olympics” to raise money for the Chugiak/Eagle River Senior Center. The month before the event the participants of the Transformational Living Community (TLC) program collected pledges from the inmates and after all was said and done $1,158.51 was donated and the Native Cultural Council added $500 more for a total of $1658.51. On July 8th representatives from the senior center came to Hiland to accept a check and for the first time women from Hiland were able to go to the senior center to visit with the seniors and present the funds. All funds raised are used by the center to help seniors who are in financial need.