AK DOC Today

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

After 56 years, Pastor Bill White retires

After 56 years working in prison ministries, Pastor Bill White has retired. This milestone is well-deserved, and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts for all that he’s done.

White, 84, was born in Tennessee. At 17, in 1950, he was called to the ministry. One year later, and until 1956, he served as a missionary in Palmer. There, he helped build the Church of God.

He met his wife, Margaret, while in Florida. The two tied the knot on June 8, 1957. Together, the newlyweds moved to Ketchikan, arriving on June 7, 1960. The Whites celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past summer.

When Pastor White was just starting off in Ketchikan, he converted a two-bedroom warehouse, with about 20 members. More than five decades later, about 120 people attend his church.

All the while, Pastor White has been involved with prison ministries, and has spent decades ministering at the Ketchikan Correctional Center. He has been instrumental in raising up several other prison workers from his church, the Lighthouse Church of God, as well as encouraging and integrating other workers from the local Christian community. One of his members, Bruce Brown, has been conducting weekly Bible studies for over 40 years. Bruce came to know Christ through Pastor White’s ministry in Ketchikan in 1976.

At present there are several believers in the Ketchikan jail. Many who were saved in jail under Pastor White’s ministry are now active members of the Lighthouse Church of God or serving in other local churches in Ketchikan and across the nation.

There is no limit to Pastor White’s outreach. Pastor White gives love, respect and personal attention to inmates, and those who’ve been written off. Some of these inmates get few visitors, one being Pastor White on a regular basis.

Pastor White received the Chaplain Of The Year Award for 2005 from the Alaska State Chaplaincy Office. He has also received special recognition from the Church of God Prison Ministry Dept. Margaret was inducted into the Church of God International “Hall of Christian Excellence” for her service and ministry with Pastor White in Ketchikan.

Pastor White’s last official day was September 23, but he will remain as a religious provider.

Shortly before Pastor’s White’s retirement, Governor Walker penned him a congratulatory letter, which said: “Your heart of service has been clearly demonstrated as you filled a crucial role that included weekly ministry, being on call for death notifications, and recruiting and training volunteers, in addition to scheduling and leading services.

In addition to your service at KCC, your commitment to the community in Ketchikan is commendable. From the development of the Coal Bay Camp and Retreat, to the outreach work with the Ketchikan Ministerial Association, you have served Southeast Alaska well. The fruits of your labor and the legacy you have created will live on in your family, and in the people you have touched. Your steadfastness in service has set a positive example for future generations that will continue on in your retirement.”

Governor Walker, we couldn’t have said it any better.

Thank you, Pastor White. We’ll forever be grateful for your time, love, teachings, spirit, and dedication to you work.

Pretrial partners with Cordova and Eyak

The Cordova Police Department, the Native Village of Eyak and the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) are officially collaborating to ensure public safety and enforcement of individuals who’ll be placed on pretrial supervision, following the launch of the department’s Pretrial Enforcement Division in January 2018.

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, DOC stood side-by-side city officials, and Eyak tribal leaders for the signing of the community’s jail contract. The contract is increasing by $19,401 to help supplement the Cordova Police Department in their efforts to assist DOC’s Pretrial Enforcement Division with assessments, the monitoring of individuals placed on pretrial supervision, and diversion programs.

“The agreement with Cordova is particularly exciting because the Pretrial Enforcement Division is partnering with the Cordova Police Department and the Native Village of Eyak,” Pretrial Enforcement Division Director Geri Fox said. “Defendants who are on pretrial release will now have someone from the Cordova Police Department staff who will check on the individual if they’re released on bail pending trial.”

Cordova will also be expanding substance abuse treatment options in the community and the Cordova Police Department will be partnering with treatment providers to help connect defendants to substance abuse treatment.

“This is a unique model that clearly puts the badge behind treatment,” Fox said. “The goal is to not only assist with early intervention, but then to also hold individuals accountable if they fail to follow through with the conditions of release ordered by the court.”

Communities everywhere reap greater benefits when state and local agencies can work together. For DOC and its pretrial division, partnering with law enforcement across Alaska was a natural and logical step. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies will help identify and solve local challenges, as well as it will help ensure that this new criminal justice function supports the department’s public safety priorities, and helps build a stronger and safer Alaska.

Cordova is the second community to partner with the state in this effort, however others are expected to officially join in coming weeks. Conversations to explore possible partnerships with other Alaska communities are ongoing.