AK DOC Today

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

A Little Help for Our Friends

First it was the snow. Literally tons of it. Remember January’s blizzard? And remember Seward’s state of emergency? Seward’s senior care facility of Mountain Haven sure does! Spotting the Bat Signal, Superintendent Lapinskas wasted no time sending out his team of community workers, under the supervision of Officer Estes. To begin the daunting task facing them, the prisoners first had to carve up the blizzard’s rooftop dump into 3 ½-foot blocks of snow. Then the shoveling began—and, to her credit, Officer Estes did not stand idly by. The crew was shown much appreciation for their two days of work. They were fed BBQ and pizza lunches and a thank you note, accompanied by home-made banana bread, was later sent to Spring Creek.

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In Alaska, there are about 30 seconds between the time the snow melts and the time of the complete take-over by the weeds and brush. Seward has had long-neglected spots badly in need of some clearing, so this time the entire crew of community-workers have been involved and they’ve gone out repeatedly. And this time they’ve been accompanied by Mr. Lapinskas himself, who has been working right alongside them. He and the prisoners have received a DOT safety briefing and DOT’s requests for help with certain areas around town. Their projects have included the weed-choked area around the cruise ship dock, the heavy brush along the pedestrian-underpass tunnel, and the growth along the sidewalk and the railroad tracks. Most recently, they cleared a scenic turnout on Nash Road, which once again is scenic with a view of Seward across the bay.

Referring specifically to the tunnel project and to the three stages of work performed by Spring Creek, followed by the city, and then the state, DOT manager Kevin Knotek has shown his appreciation in a letter of thanks: “All in all I feel it was an excellent example of interagency cooperation for the betterment of the community. It is my hope that increased policing will follow. Thank you SCCC for your efforts.” You’re very welcome, Seward.

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DOC talks reentry at Bear Tooth

Corrections and criminal justice is a complex beast, sometimes hard to explain and hard to understand. So last week we did something a little bit different — we decided to host and start a community conversation about what it takes for someone to be successful in society after being released from prison.

In Alaska, two out of three individuals recidivate after release from incarceration. Collateral consequences are large and impact every community throughout the state. One successful reentrant empowers not only themselves, but also their children and families. Their success directly affects ours; when we help a transitioning individual, we are helping our neighbors, our local businesses and ultimately the place we all call home. This is a hand-up not a hand-out; they cannot do it alone.

We want to thank everyone from the community who attended. We hope this was just the start of a much larger conversation about reentry, and that it was just one of many conversations between DOC and the community.

A big shout of to our panelists; Professionals from Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc., Alaska Ironworkers, New Life Development-Anchorage, and Alaska Public Media, and the three reentrants who clawed their way through the criminal justice system. Thank you, your work and determination is inspiring.

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