AK DOC Today

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

Ron Taylor named Deputy Commissioner for Reentry and Programs, effective December 1

2012 Superintendents Meeting

Commissioner Joe Schmidt has named Ron Taylor, Director of the Division of Probation and Parole, as Deputy Commissioner for Prisoner Reentry and Programming, effective December 1, 2012. Taylor will replace Carmen Gutierrez who is retiring.

Taylor worked alongside the Department of Corrections beginning in 2008 when he was named Executive Director of the Board of Parole. Taylor joined the Department of Corrections as Division Director in 2011.

In 1990, Taylor began an 18-year career with the Department of Health and Social Services as an Adult Probation Officer with the Alaska Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and later promoted to Program Manager. Taylor was responsible for the statewide direction and supervision of adult misdemeanor probation, juvenile monitoring, tobacco enforcement, therapeutic court community supervision and substance abuse program certification.

As an Adult Probation Officer with ASAP, Taylor provided case management and monitoring of misdemeanant probationers with substance abuse or behavioral health requirements. Later, Taylor served as liaison between the criminal justice system and social service agencies, and also served as president of the National Organization of State Impaired Driving Programs (NOSIP) for state DUI administrators.

Taylor will continue to oversee the Division of Probation and Parole until a Director is named; effective December 1 the Division will remain the responsibility of Taylor as Deputy Commissioner.

Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida. He is married and has two children.

Departments of Corrections, Labor and Workforce Development Nurture Cooperative Environment

The Department of Corrections and Department of Labor and Workforce Development have been increasing collaborative efforts, with the goal of easing released offenders back into the workplace and a more productive future. Here are some of the ways the two departments are working together:

The DOL’s Central Region Manager met with Deputy Commissioner Carmen Gutierrez, Director Ron Taylor, and two AmeriCorps representatives to discuss how AmeriCorps members might work within the regional job centers on job development and services for Prisoner Reentry.

Anchorage Business Connection staff met with the Alaska Prisoner Reentry Task Force at their Employment Workgroup Meeting. The meeting was chaired by Melissa Abrami, Project Coordinator and attendees included Beth Leschper (DOL-WD), Gary Olsen (DOC), John Hakala (Federal Apprenticeship), and Ruth Schoenleben (Nine Star). Participants were updated on the status of six strategies to improve access to employment for individuals with criminal records exiting correctional facilities.

Recently, Anchorage Business Connection staff conducted a Seafood Orientation at Goose Creek Correctional Center. This is part of an effort to assist inmates with employment in the seafood industry after incarceration. DOL-WD is training the DOC Education Coordinator to conduct the Seafood Orientations so she can provide them monthly to inmates nearing release.

“Success Inside and Out” a Success at Hiland Mountain

The theme of the 2012 Success Inside and Out Conference at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center was to empower the participants to change their story and make a plan for success. The conference consisted of a series of concurrent sessions that encourage women to think about their reentry needs for that first week of release. This year’s conference featured 17 highly regarded women from Anchorage to work as mentors. Each encouraged the female inmates to begin preparing today for their immediate needs upon release such as clothing, transportation, identification and housing.

God Behind Bars Collaborative Effort of Chaplaincy Office

God Behind Bars (GBB) is a program that began approximately three years ago in Nevada and has rapidly spread to prisons in Oklahoma, Colorado, and now in Alaska. The program consists of four parts. Part one is an HD presentation of a church service from Central Christian Church of Las Vegas NV. This church (seventh largest in USA) shares their service with over 30,000 people every week both in person, on line, and in campuses throughout the US and over 30 countries. Beginning September 28 the services are now shown at Hiland Mountain CC on Friday evenings to over 100 inmates each night. Central Christian Church has partnered with a local Anchorage church, Faith Christian Community and is sharing their services on a part time basis.

Part two of GBB is the introduction of Celebrate Recovery, a 12 step program similar to the AA 12-step program. Celebrate Recovery not only targets drug and alcohol addiction but is very successful in addressing all hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Celebrate Recovery is scheduled to begin at Hiland CC in November this year.

Part three of GBB centers around helping inmates gain job skills while still in prison to be useful in gaining employment once they are released. Partnering with existing programs will be the goal in this area since Alaska, unlike other states, already has many programs addressing this need.

Part four of GBB emphasizes the importance of helping inmates immediately upon their release. Partnering with the Alaska Prisoner Re-entry Task Force is paramount. As was true with part three, Alaska is ahead of other states and is fortunate to have this task force. GBB has already made this connection and will be bringing ideas that have worked in other states to the table.

One of the greatest attributes of this program is that it runs at no cost to the state. It is directed totally by volunteers and donations. It partners with local churches, Alaskan Correctional Ministries and other concerned individuals.

Superintendents, Field Office Leads Meet at Palmer

2012 Superintendents Meeting

Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti was keynote speaker at the opening session of the annual Superintendents Conference, held Oct. 9-10 at the department’s Training Academy in Palmer. Superintendents and Probation Supervisors met, along with division directors to share information and hear reports on yearly progress and new initiatives.

Department speaks to Evidence Based Sentencing at Judicial Conference

The Department of Corrections was privileged to be invited to participate in the 2012 Judicial Conference. Alaska Court of Appeals Judge Joel H. Bolger, responsible for the conference curriculum, invited the department to discuss Evidence Based Sentencing.

Commissioner Joe Schmidt offered opening comments, telling over 100 judges how important he views a collaborative relationship between the judiciary and DOC. Deputy Commissioner Carmen Gutierreez moderated a panel discussion led by Chief Probation Officers Keith Thayer, Rebecca Brunger and Martie Correa. Thayer and Correa provided an explanation of, and answered questions on, the Level of Service Inventory, Revised (LSI-R), how it’s used in the institutions and by field probation officers. Brunger provided the results of DOC’s examination of LSI-R data regarding risk levels of current probationers and the new direction for probationer supervision. DOC also offered suggestions regarding the practical applications of the LSI-R tool at sentencing and during PTRP (petition to revoke probation) disposition hearings.

Department Shares National Award for Housing Partnership

COSCDA Award

Thanks to active collaboration between Department of Corrections Adult Probation/Parole Officers and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, the State of Alaska Housing Finance Agency was awarded the 2012 COSCDA Sterling Achievement Award for Homelessness for its Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program for Former Prisoners.

Parole/ Probation officers provide referrals to AHFC which processes the referral according to the program rules. Probation / Parole Officers act as a point of contact for the household, landlord and the AHFC Public Housing staffs. TBRA is offered throughout Alaska in eleven locations. Individuals that are on DOC probation or parole that will lease-up in the HOME/ Housing Choice Voucher service area are eligible to apply.

The AHFC Public Housing Division conducts the income eligibility determinations and conducts the briefing class for TBRA participants and their Probation/Parole Officers. Unit approval, inspections and renewals are conducted using the existing Housing Choice Voucher administrative infrastructure.

Offender file Conversion Project Underway in Juneau

File conversion

File conversion

Over the last year, staff of the Records Section at Juneau Central Office Administrative Services have started a process to convert the paper files of former DOC offenders into an electronic format. New computer software was designed and installed which allows paper documents to be scanned and then stored in ACOMS. Previously, an offender’s hard file had to be tracked down, boxed up, and shipped. In addition, storage capacity for paper files has been greatly expanded, which allows staff improved access to files in need of conversion.

“We’re excited about the direction we are heading regarding paper files. While we don’t have the capacity to store all the paper files located at all of our facilities, we hope to at least take some of the pressure off of facilities dealing with the burden of storing so many hard files,” said Section Chief Mike Matthews.

The Juneau Central Office has already begun to receive files from some DOC offices. In fact, the office received over 5,000 pounds of paper files for storage and eventual conversion on a single day in October.

“Our ultimate goal is to implement a schedule where each facility ships us a fixed number of hard files on a recurring basis. This will allow the facilities the ability to get some additional control over their file storage capacity while at the same time allow us to predict and prepare for all of the incoming files,” Matthews said.