AK DOC Today

News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections

Inmates Give Back to the Community: A Christmas Holiday List

Alaska prison inmates have widely contributed to community give-back programs this holiday season; here is a list:

Wildwood Correctional Centers, Kenai –

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  • Inmate clubs donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army
  • Inmates crocheted over 100 hats to be given away at a local elementary school and Veteran’s Clinic.
  • Inmates participated in a Christmas Wreath program to benefit the local senior center
  • Minimum Facility prisoners handcrafted 500 wooden toys for the holiday season. Spenard Builders Supply in Wasilla donated the wood for the fifth year.
  • Medium Facility handcrafted and donated 2800 hats, 150 blankets, and 150 scarves. All of the materials used for the projects are purchased from the profits generated by the PCC Medium Club Sales Store. This year we had over 200 participants in the program, and the prisoners designed their own unique patterns.

These handcrafted wooden toys and crochet gifts were donated to the following local community organizations: Alaska Family Services, Palmer Food Bank, Claire House, AWAIC, Wasilla Food Pantry, Mother Lawrence Foundation, Akeela House, Stepping Stone, McKinnel House, Children’s Place, The Giving Tree, Special Santa Program, Providence Children’s Hospital and Anchorage and Mat Valley Salvation Army.

Lemon Creek Correctional Center, Juneau –

  • In December, eight carvings from the Hobby Shop were donated to the Salvation Army to be used for silent auction fund raisers.
  • Blankets, baby bags and hats from the Craft Shop were donated to Salvation Army for inclusion in the Christmas gift bags donated to needy families.
  • 33-baby blankets were donated to the Juneau Birthing Center for donation to the new infants and twelve bed quilts were donated to the Pioneer Home for the senior citizen residents.
  • The Multi-Culture Club donated over $500 to the Juneau Youth Football League in December.

Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm, Wasilla –

  • PMCF participated in the 2012 Toys for Tots Drive: Prisoner Hobby Craft workers produced 36 jewelry boxes, 113 toy cars, and 164 puzzles all items were handcrafted from scrap wood donated by local Wasilla vendors.

Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, Eagle River –

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  • Give-back efforts at HMCF are extensive. This year inmates at the facility adopted the villages of Port Lions and Anvik, filling a wall of the gymnasium with hand-made and purchased gifts and supplies for these communities; tin all the inmates raised $7,500 for this project through two clubs. The clubs also covered some of the cost of shipping 719 pounds of items. Also provided were the cost of ‘thank-you’ gifts to the airlines which donated some of the freight charges (ERA and Island Air).
  • Inmates raised $5,345 for gifts for two unnamed families through the Salvation Army’s “adopt-a-family program. One family had five members, the other four.
  • HMCC inmates hand-made 100 quilts, 50 hats and 50 scarves for the Palmer Police Department’s “Santa Cop” program. The value of the quilts was placed at $10,000 in materials and machine usage.
  • HMCC inmates donated 50 scarves to the Special Olympics.
  • HMCC inmates provided 100 knitted hats to Providence Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Unit, and 40 hand-made pillows for the breast cancer treatment unit.

Inmate Ice Sculpture Contest held at Wildwood Correctional Center

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The Wildwood Correctional Center held its first ice sculpture contest. The contest was initiated by the Correctional Officers working at the new minimum camp (Wildwood Transitional Program). The Officers had the inmates pile the snow in the inmate recreation area to be compacted. Four teams signed up to take part in the contest and worked through many sub-zero days and evenings to complete their projects. Assistant Superintendent Shannon McCloud was the Judge and chose the life-size model of a Jeep. In second place, was the oversized toilet and in third and fourth places were polar bears and walruses.

Superintendent Bob Hibpshman thought the contest was a good way to keep the inmates busy and learn to work together on teams. “I was surprised at the level of detail on the sculptures considering they had very few tools to work with,” he said. The winners received a bag of Starbucks Coffee and the runners up were given king sized candy bars.

Polar Bears, Sunsets and Self-Worth

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Spring Creek Correctional Center extends a warm thank you to Charlen Satrom who shared her time, energy and enthusiasm with inmates participating in water color classes funded by the Kenai Peninsula & Borough School District. Nationally recognized for her work in oils, watercolors, pastels and other media, Ms. Satrom led two groups of inmates through Alaska-themed paintings from start to finish over five days.

The transformation was amazing – from blank page to sailboats at sunset and polar bears appearing at dusk. Equally amazing was the transformation apparent in inmates as Ms. Satrom gently guided them from sketching subject matter to bringing it to life one brush stroke at a time. Participants’ pride in their work was obvious and undeniable, especially upon completion of class as paintings were displayed and viewed as a whole.

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Ms. Satrom trained in art and education at Seattle Pacific University. Among her many works is a portrait of Rep. Don Young which hangs in a Washington, D.C. legislative building. Ms. Satrom also runs Brush with Adventure: Charlen Style, a non-profit organization providing artistic opportunities to underprivileged, underrepresented, and incarcerated populations. Classes like those held at Spring Creek Correctional Center teach participants to see the beauty around them, to express themselves in a positive way and to build both self confidence and self worth through individual achievement. Participants also learn to accept constructive criticism, a skill essential for success at Spring Creek and beyond.

– report from SCCC Education Coordinator Nonna Shtipelman

Commissioner Meets With Interior Alaska Native, Rural Leaders

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Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt led a department team in a round-table discussion with Interior Alaska Native and Rural leaders in Fairbanks December 8th. The agenda included Goose Creek prison, probation and parole, recruitment, programming, reducing recidivism and the role of communities in supporting successful prisoner re-entry into the community. The meetings have become an annual event. This year the commissioner was joined by Attorney General John Burns and Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters. The round-table was organized by Dorothy Shockley, staff to Sen. Albert Kookesh. Participating organizations included Steve Ginnis representing the Fairbanks Native Association, Jerry Isaac of Tanana Chiefs, Rev. Anna Frank of the Episcopal Diocese and Native Justice Advocate Shirley Lee.

WCC Inmates Crochet for Community Give-Back

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After six weeks, ten inmates at Wildwood Correctional Center’s minimum camp have completed a crochet project with a goal of giving back to the community. In six weeks, the inmates have made over 90 hats and mittens to be donated to local elementary schools through a community organization. The program is modeled after one at the Palmer Correctional Center. Inmates complete three projects for charity and a fourth one can be sent home to their family. The crochet program started with 5 inmates and at the end of six weeks, at least ten inmates are being taught the basics of crocheting by an inmate teacher.

“We have some big ideas”, says Assistant Superintendent Shannon McCloud. “We answered a radio announcement from one of the local elementary schools for the need of warm weather gear and the inmates got busy and made 50 hats. I just dropped them off last week and they were very much appreciated. Next, we hope to donate to a Veteran’s organization and eventually make items for Hospice of Alaska. This is a way that we can have these guys give back to our communities.

The program is sustained by donated yarn, said superintendent Bob Hibpshman, who also sees the program as a way to keep inmates busy and out of trouble. “What a wonderful way to help these guys learn a new skill and help others in the process. One thing that is needed to make this program a success is yarn. We have been taking donations from the Salvation Army and private donors, we hope this program can continue and grow in the future.”