News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections
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.
Providing career education to prisoners is one part of a goal to reduce recidivism as exiting prisoners are better prepared to enter the work world. The State Training and Employment Program is administered by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Business Partnerships and funded by a set-aside from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
On June 27th, ten students from Hiland Mountain Correctional Center graduated from the Alaska Operating Engineers/Employers Training Trust Center (AOEET) located in Palmer. Kaile Lewis graduated with a Class A CDL.
The AOEET 3-week training consisted of: OSHA 10 and Forklift Certification, North Slope Training Card, Mine Safety and Health Administration card for sand and gravel, CDL-class B with automatic endorsement, Heavy Equipment training/ orientation on Loader, Dozer, Articulating truck, Backhoe, Roller and Grader. Tammi Charlsworth, Kaile Lewis, Amanda Markegard, and Kayleen Wells surpassed the orientation for heavy equipment and were indentured as apprentices for the upcoming March 2015 class.
“This project was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career; it was a community involvement, from the steadfast leadership of Mike Holcomb and Adam Ferguson at AOEET, to Superintendent Mike Gilligan’s transportation team back and forth to DMV, Social Security, and medical appointments for DOT physicals. HMCC’s Gloria Johnson, Lieutenant Vikki Lacy, Ed Coordinator Karen Jenkins and DOL’s Career Specialist Anne Velardi. Also, the interaction taken with the community to make this successful was absolutely positive. This process gave me more confidence the public respects what the Department is doing to reduce recidivism,” said CJP Gary Olsen.
During the week of June 16-20th seven participants from Department of Corrections attended a Field Training Officer class sponsored by APSC. While attending this training session students learned a variety of training techniques concerning coaching, documentation, learning styles, and remedial efforts to enhance the learning experience for new employees. These individuals now possess the skills and knowledge to facilitate a solid training program in probation/parole and institutions. Efforts to expand training to new FTO’s and the development of a formal program are underway. Congratulations to those seven who graduated from the class. Please feel free to talk to them and pick their brain concerning any FTO ideas, concerns or just good information that they received from the training. Those who attended from the Anchorage Field Probation Office were Tom Karpow PO III and Andrea Kuckertz PO II. Those attending from the institution side of the house were Cary Quiring CO III and Bethanne Courson CO II both from Spring Creek. Jeremy Angel CO II, Chad Brooks CO III and Matthew Posey CO III from Goose Creek.
— PO III Caroline Stevens
Leslie Houston's last day as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Corrections was Monday, June 30. Her six-year term with the department was celebrated by her JCO coworkers and Commissioner Joe Schmidt. Since joining the department in May 2008, Leslie has been in a leadership role for a number of key department milestones including:
- Increase in AK Grown purchasing by 127 percent; assisted Alaska farmers as well as providing the freshest possible produce to the incarcerated population.
- Stabilized relationships with rural communities by addressing their concerns.
- Built the multi-year operating and capital projects to support the opening of Goose Creek Correctional Center from the soft ramp-up to full operations; successfully secured full funding from the legislature.
- Regarding the DOC operating budget and capital budget, changed long-standing philosophies and made necessary internal adjustments resulting in not having to seek supplemental appropriations from the Legislature.
- Successfully secured funding to support new boilers and equipment to continue the Alaska Marine Highway Laundry Service.
- Guided data collection and reporting in all areas.
- Established a high level of credibility and trust across communities, the legislature, and DOC staff.
Houston had particular praise for the department's administrative staff. "Nothing could have been accomplished without strong section chiefs. This has been a team effort. It takes a great team."
Houston moves to the Department of Health and Social Services where she will be a division director.
— Richard Schmitz
On Friday, June 20, 2014, the Employee Assistance Program at Spring Creek Correctional Center held a luncheon at Peking Restaurant to honor Employee of the Year, Amy Komarek. In attendance were Director Bryan Brandenburg, Criminal Justice Planner Johnnie Wallace and Chaplaincy Program Coordinator Jim Duncan, who graciously drove down to Seward to attend. The luncheon had a large turn-out, with many in attendance bringing their children, lending to a festive family-friendly atmosphere. Director Brandenburg and Superintendent Sullivan both addressed the audience with rousing speeches and Mary Sandy of the Employee Assistance Program presented Amy with her awards.
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Spring Creek Correctional Center (SCCC) would like to thank everyone who donated gifts this year: Alaska Sealife Center, American Legion Post 5, Apollo Restaurant, Bear Lake Lodgings B&B, Inc., City Express, Petro 49 Inc., Hotel Seward/Gene’s Place, Kenai Fjords Tours, Peking Restaurant, Resurrect Art Coffee House Gallery, Seward Chamber of Commerce, Seward Volunteer Fire Department, Sip N Spin, Stylin’ Stitches, and The Sea Bean Cafe.
— Assistant Superintendent Bobby Lockeby