AK DOC Today

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

Nancy Ogram Honored for 15 Years of Service

Photo of Nancy Ogram and Commissioner Schmidt

Commissioner Joe Schmidt, left, presents a certificate to Administrative Assistant Nancy Ogram

Administrative Assistant Nancy Ogram was honored by her coworkers as she was presented a 15-year service pin on November 26th at the Commissioner’s Office in Anchorage. “Nancy is the picture of dedication, caring and fairness,” said Probation and Parole Director Carrie Belden. “She has been a tremendous asset to our division over the years and I can’t say enough nice things about her professionally and personally.”
Nancy often fills in for the Commissioner’s secretary when she is away, and performs other duties as needed. “Nancy is so dedicated and organized,” added Executive Secretary Kay Schmidt. “She is a wonderful asset to the Department and a great pleasure to work with.”

Fairbanks Probation Office Takes Halloween Decorating to the Next Level

Knowing that several staff in the Fairbanks probation office are huge Halloween fanatics and thinking of a way to boost office morale, what started out as a friendly competition of the hallways took on a life of its own during the month of October.

From plain white walls to a Haunted Castle and St. Merciless Hospital the teams spent many weekend and evening hours including their families in a team effort to complete the transformation.  Down the “East Side” hall you were met with a draw bridge entrance to the castle.  As you went down the hall you passed the headless horseman in the stable, the royal privies, sorcerer’s room, and dungeon.  The hallway ended in a fog filled graveyard.  The west side consisted of a pharmacy, in-sanitization, laundry, lab, hospital administrator, gift shop, asylum, radiology, nursery, Ebola cafeteria, morgue, surgery and the final grand finale consisted of a homemade life size animatronic zombie. The zombie greeted guests, with his fully moving neck, mouth, eyes and voice. The creator, Chris Hampton says it took about 16 hours in all to create the ‘head’ from scratch, it was not purchased as the judges originally thought. Everyone on the west side dressed up, some wearing scrubs, some wearing hazmat suits.

The official judging was done by District Court Judge Christiansen and Superior Court Judge Kauvar. After an official tour of the hallways, they had to deliberate. Everyone gathered to hear the final judgment, but not after closing arguments and a rebuttal. The East Side won first prize for best overall decorated hallway. The West Side won first prize for group participation, not to mention the fine details. No feelings were hurt as both won a first prize ribbon. The award ceremony was followed by a potluck, which of course included spider deviled eggs, spider seven layer dip, Jell-O worms, left over body parts-aka chicken, mummies and bloody cheesecake.

Family and friends were invited to come trick or treating Halloween afternoon. On Friday,  staff were in full costume again, some staff even came in on their days off to participate with the children. There were about 20 little ones that participated with their parents.

Next year we are only decorating pumpkins.

— Leah Tupper, Amanda Cockrell, Christopher Hampton

GCCC Prisoner-Trained Dogs Ready for Adoption December 3

You can have a new family member for the holidays!

GCCC SPOT (Shelter Pet Obedience Training) adoption is Wednesday, December 3. This is a fun and playful group of dogs with a canine personality to fit in any family. Check out the bios (below) if you are interested in adopting. If you like, call 864-8125 and arrange a visit at GCCC to meet your potential pet. On December 3 at 11 am adoptions will open up. Call the MatSu Borough Animal Shelter at 746-5500, press 2 for adoptions, then leave a message that you want to adopt the dog by the number on the face sheet. The first person to call the Shelter will be considered a priority for adoption. After the MSB Shelter receives the call they will call you back to get your information. All adoption fees apply and are paid to the Shelter. Your adoption papers will be ready on graduation day, December 10, at 3 pm in the GCCC visitation building. You will be handed your new forever pet and your adoption papers at that time. If you can’t make it out to GCCC, your pet will be taken to the MatSu Borough Animal Shelter in Palmer.

Photo of Stella the Dog

About Stella:

“I need a new home for the holidays. I am a great puppy, almost 8 months old. I love to play with people and other dogs and have lots of energy. I go up and down the stairs without any problems. I will do my best to listen to you when you tell me to sit and stay or lay down. I can tell you when I have to go outside. But if you don’t listen when I scratch at the door or whine, I will bark! The guys teaching me this stuff says my fur is really white and feels like a rabbit’s fur. I don’t know about fur rabbit but I am sure I would like to play with one. I have great manners and would love to join your family! Oh yeah, if my cuteness hasn’t won you over, I am a Great Pyrenees mix if that helps you make up your mind.”

Photo of Freckles the Dog

About Freckles:

“Hi I’m Freckles. I’m an Australian Shepherd and approximately 2 years old. I’m very boisterous, very loyal and very lovable. I love to play with other dogs. I want to say hi to everyone I see and of course they love me. I’m highly motivated by food and play. I’m sharp as a tack, whatever that means. I have a high energy level so I need lots of room to run. When I’m excited about something, I make myself heard. I love being a pet, I love having my belly scratched and I love my chew toys. I’d be a great dog for a family with children that can keep up with my energy and give me the exercise I need AND I play well with other dogs my size. My long coat gives me good protection against Alaska’s cold weather. What female doesn’t love a fur coat!” Freckles has learned to: sit, lay down, come, settle, retrieve and is house trained.

Photo of Pinky the Dog

About Pinky:

“Hi I’m Pinky, a tan and white Pit Bull with all the trimmings. I am 15 months old and full of energy (don’t let my size fool you). I love everyone I come in contact with and everyone loves me back. I’m so cute. You might say I am the “Miss Piggy” of the dog world. I’m very energetic and love to play constantly. Plus, I’m good with kids and other animals. I’m very affectionate and love to kiss you but will stop if you tell me to. I would be a good dog for any family that loves animals.” What Pinky knows…Pinky knows: sit, shake, come, high five, lay down.

Photo of Happy the Dog

About Happy:

“Hi I’m Happy, not happy like that—well I’m happy too, but, my name’s Happy. I am a Doberman Pinscher mix and I have tons of energy, but not the bad kind that drives you crazy. Enough with the semantics. I will bond with you if you take me home. I’m learning to be more social because the guys I have been hanging out with for the past few months are teaching me that it’s ok to be a dog (and I am soooo cute). I love everyone and even other animals. I am kind of a pack dog so I don’t mind being the beta to your alpha. The best thing about me is I’m fully house broken. I mean, who isn’t these days, right? I like to exercise a lot and I’m highly motivated by food, so keep the treats handy. Here are some of my commands: Heel, Sit, Come, Lay Down, Kennel Up.”

Photo of Cyrus the Dog

About Cyrus:

“It’s your dog Cyrus! I am a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with some American Terrier mixed in for good measure. I’m one year old and weigh 55 pounds. Don’t let my size stop you from loving me though. I have to admit I am extremely shy around strangers and it takes a while before you warm up to me. So come out to Goose Creek and get to know me. I really need a nice home, preferably with a loving, patient family that likes to have lots and lots of fun. I would like to live with adults who have older children. I love playing with other dogs and having my belly rubbed too. My favorite thing is food, lots of and lots of food. Check out some of the things I can do: Sit, Come, Lay Down, Kennel up. I am sure I can do more if you invest your time and love in me.”

Photo of Cyrus the Dog

Photo of Easy the Dog

About Easy:

“My name is Easy and I do live up to my name. I am a Labrador Poodle mix. I love to play fetch and I have a very soft mouth when I bring the ball back. Just because I am big (70 pounds) doesn’t mean I play rough. Just say drop it and we can do it again and again, it’s that Easy (I crack myself up). People say I look like a human in a dog suit, but I think I just look like my Mom (check out my soulful eyes). Anyway, I’m good with kids, animals and people. Plus I am smart as a whip (whatever that is)! Here’s what I can do: Sit, Come, Lay, Kennel Up, Shake, Play Dead and Roll Over.”

Photo of Liam the Dog

About Liam:

Hi my name is Liam. I’m a fun loving dog that likes to run and loves to play and chase other dogs. Well I am part Greyhound. The other part of me is Husky. I’m highly energized, food motivated and excited about everything. Yee-Ha! I like most dogs and people, but really, I’m just looking for a caring family that likes to play and has lots of time and space for me. Yahoo! Take me home!! You will love me! I know how to: Sit, Heel, Off, Kennel-Up, Leave it, Drop It, Come, Shake and High Five!”

Chaplain Duncan Meets Former CO and Crime Writer Ron Walden

Photo of Walden and Duncan

Former CO and author Ron Walden, left, sits with Chaplain Jim Duncan

Ron Walden retired from the Department of Corrections in 1990 but he did not stay retired long.  Alyeska Pipeline Security hired Ron and sent him to the North Slope.  While in his downtime he read a few crime novels (Grisham, Koon, Cusler and Patterson) and the light bulb went on.  Ron started writing a novel that included the line, pigs and politics.  The pilot, turned CO III, turned Pipeline Security officer was now exploring writing for the first time.  Success did not come quickly.  Ron and I met several years ago at Soldotna’s Moose Is Loose Bakery.  While nursing a couple of world renowned fritters I asked Ron how he got started:

Q:  When did your writing skills begin to manifest?

Ron:  I never wrote anything but on the job reports.  Writing was never on my radar until I went to work on the slope.  My first book showed it.  It took 5 years to complete.

Q:  What is it about writing that inspires you?
Ron:  I enjoy the research.  I spent several years in North Dakota to write Devils Heart.  I can get lost in researching.

Q.  Cinch Knot was inspired by your work for Alyeska, which one is inspired by your work in Corrections?
Ron:  (Ron laughs) I suspect all of them.  All those years of listening to some really good WCC inmate stories gives you good fodder.  The stories are always fiction but I like to embed true facts.  I want to make it as believable as fiction can be.  Naturally I weave in some of the great eating establishments in South Central Alaska, (i.e. Moose Is Loose, Froso’s, Fat Olives, Duncan House, Gwinnies and a unnamed Mexican chain in Anchorage).

Q:  What advice would you give an unpublished writer?
Ron:  First, be dedicated to writing or your story will lose continuity.  Second, be dedicated to getting it published.  Eleven rejections will take some wind out of your sales.  My break came when I found a hungry publisher.  I became his fourth book and they have published 7 of my books out of their 400 publications.  (Publication Consultants)

Q.  What’s the hardest part of writing?
Ron:  Simply page two.  You have to hook the reader with page one and then keep them hooked from page two through page 300.  That is tough. 

(One of Ron’s retired trooper friends sits down and adds, “Ron’s hardest part is keeping his crayons sharp.”  We all laugh.  Ron attracts a good sense of humor.)

Q:  You killed off a Duncan in Poacher’s Paradise and my dad takes ownership of that character.  Do you have room for any characters we might know of in a future book?
Ron:  (Ron laughs and pauses with a smile.)  You will just have to buy the book. 

Ron’s books can be found at Amazon and local book stores.  This chaplain can endorse all of them as good wholesome adventure/crime novels set in Alaska.  The prison libraries have some copies.

Female Inmates at KCC Gain Employment Skills With AMSEA Class

Commercial fishing remains Alaska’s largest and most dangerous occupation, according to the US Coast Guard. Studies of incidents at sea also show that female crew members are less likely to survive abandon ship situations in Alaska than their male counterparts. One of the likely reasons is that female crew members are often not “in the loop” as much as their male counterparts in terms of safety procedures. In Ketchikan, a large number of jobs are in the maritime industry and Ketchikan Correctional Center is committed to providing maritime safety education programs through the Alaska Maritime Safety Education Association (AMSEA). During a recent 18 hour AMSEA safety class, instructor Dug Jensen taught a class for female inmates. Jensen said the class was particularly effective because the female inmates were involved in all parts in the abandon ship, onboard fire and flooding drills, including ship handling, emergency communication, life raft deployment and person in the water rescues. The female inmates gained a comprehensive knowledge of emergency situations and procedures that will help them if they face danger on the high sea, according to Jensen.

— Superintendent Jessica Mathews

PCC Holds Akeela RSAT Graduation Event for Class of 30

Photo of RSAT graduates

The Akeela Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program (RSAT) held a graduation at the Palmer Correctional Center (PCC) medium facility October 30. PCC staff, friends, and family were in attendance to honor the graduation of thirty (30) inmates. Graduates included: (From left to right) Front Row: James Culp, Nikko Adams, William Welsh, Patrick Kinzy, Leslie Clark, Corey Thompson, Justin Snyder
Back Row: Kyle Starr, Justin Kennedy, Jacques Lisby, Brett White, Derrik Williams, Dean Ranstead, Robert McComas, Jason Gray, Aaron Thomas, Joseph Gray, Byron Peters, Kenneth Smith, John Hamilton, Timothy Russell, Shane Foley, Roger Boshears, Robert Sugar, Johnny Havird, Joseph Allen, Rick Burroughs.

PCC Staff Raises $846 for 2014 SHARE Campaign

Photo of Sgt. Robert Hall, Renee Jensen, and Tracy Ivory Grasty

L-R: Sgt. Robert Hall, Renee Jensen, Tracy Ivory Grasty

Palmer Correctional Center staff joined together to raise a total of $846.56 for the 2014 SHARE Campaign. Office Assistants Renee Jensen and Tracy Ivory Grasty led the campaign by organizing multiple bake sales, a potato bake, a silent auction, and a pizza sale. The PCC staff generously donated their time and culinary skills for the bake sale. The potatoes were donated from the Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm. The PCC kitchen staff and inmates assisted in expertly preparing the spuds for consumption. Ms. Jensen and Ms. Grasty, along with Sgt. Robert Hall, donated multiple items for the silent auction. “PCC staff had a wonderful time outbidding each other on all of the excellent donations! A special thanks goes to Sgt. Hall for donating two handmade plaques depicting the teamwork and dedication that staff at PCC exemplifies,” said Superintendent Tomi Anderson. (The plaque can be seen in the accompanying photo.)

Anvil Mountain Superintendent Lucy Dittmar Retires After 20-year Career

Photo of Lucy Dittmar

Superintendent Lucy Dittmar

Superintendent Lucy Dittmar began her career with the Department of Corrections in 1994 at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. From 1994-2003 Dittmar worked as a as a floor officer, disciplinary officer, records officer and standards officer. In November, 2002 Dittmar took a five-month sabbatical to fight nasal pharyngeal carcinoma. With the cancer defeated, Dittmar returned in May 2003, working inn records, and in July 2004, Dittmar promoted to the Records/Training/Security/Compliance Sgt. In 2005, Dittmar returned to manage a shift of four officers. Dittmar promoted to Lieutenant in April, 2008 and was named Superintendent in May, 2013.
“I have enjoyed working for the Department of Correction and have enjoyed living in Nome for the last 20 years,” Dittmar said. “I don’t think I would have recovered from the cancer treatment as well as I did, if I did not have to go back to work. Working took my mind off the challenges that cancer and cancer treatment bring to your life and I think because I had to get back on my feet and manage a multitude of duties, I did not have time to focus deeply on the problems that I would face throughout recovery.”

Fairbanks PO Arranges Law Enforcement Welcome for Disabled Child

An article in the Fairbanks News-Miner about Ben Pierce, a nine-year old boy from Texas who was losing his eyesight due to a medical condition, grabbed the attention of PO II Amber Terrill in the Fairbanks Probation Office. Ben’s wish, the article explained, was to come to Alaska and see the northern lights.  Being a mother of two young boys,  PO Terrill couldn’t help to think that being greeted by police officers would be one of the coolest experiences and hopefully a lasting visual memory to store for a lifetime.  She contacted local agencies including the Fairbanks Police Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers who were all more than willing and eager to have at least one if not more of their uniformed personnel at the airport when this little boy and his family arrived.

As the crowd grew at the airport to welcome Ben and his family, so did the uniformed presence.  “It was an amazing and heartwarming sight to see not only a line of over a dozen uniformed law enforcement officers, but also the excited community members who thought that their presence was “Awesome” PO Terrill said. “The true icing on the cake though was seeing Ben’s face light up when each officer and trooper lined up to meet him and shake his hand.  The true reward to the day was knowing in the end the community of Fairbanks and its local and state law enforcement officers all helped this little boy have an amazing welcome and a visual memory that will last forever.”

Prisoner Work Crew Assists Big Lake Lions with Rec Center Repairs

Sgt. Mark Olson escorted six inmates from Goose Creek Correctional Center via Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm to the Big Lake Lions Recreation Center to assist in getting the facility ready for the upcoming hockey and community ice-skating season. The men removed stains and polished the dasher boards and Plexiglas, cleaned and organized ice skates, swept and mopped, and picked up trash. The men enjoyed getting out of their normal routine to perform this service benefitting the community of Big Lake. The work crew service was performed Oct. 10-15.