AK DOC Today

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

Commissioner Williams visits Southwest fish processing plant, explores possibilities

Earlier this week, Commissioner Dean Williams had the opportunity to visit a fish processing plant in Ekuk, just outside of Dillingham, with the facility’s owner, Jerry Hall, and PO Rexford Spofford. Commissioner Williams is exploring the idea of allowing inmates, near the end of their sentence, an opportunity to work at the camp during the fishing season.

Employment remains an important strategy to reduce the high recidivism rate of returning citizens.

Koda: A busy dog

This is Koda. He’s been working his tail off for the people of Alaska. He might be officially team DOC, but he’s been assisting other law enforcement agencies to help keep drugs out of our communities. In just the last six weeks, he’s discovered 2,043 grams, or 4.5 pounds, of methamphetamine and 20 grams of heroin.

Who’s a good boy?!

DOC awarded Second Chance grant

The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) is pleased to announce that earlier this month we were awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Assistance that will help us better fight and lower the state’s recidivism rate.

As Alaska’s criminal justice reform efforts continue to expand, and the state combats growing crime rates and an opioid epidemic, the Second Chance Act Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction Strategic Planning Program grant will enhance DOC’s ability to do our part in creating a stronger and safer Alaska.

This grant will give us a chance to realign and focus our recidivism reduction efforts with our many community partners, who are crucial to the reentry process and reform efforts, while also allowing us to research the drivers of recidivism, establish Alaska’s recidivism reduction goals, review the alignment of existing DOC programs and policies with evidence-based practices, and develop a strategic plan to reach our recidivism reduction goals.

After a year of strategic plan development, DOC will apply for the second phase of the grant, which could allot up to $3 million for the plan’s implementation.

Currently, about two-thirds of people released from incarceration return to prison. This statistic has impacts far and wide across Alaska. The work we’ll be able to start and enhance with this funding will help us further build a solid foundation for reentry services that will help slow down the seemingly ever-revolving door of incarceration.

Can Alaska learn from Norway’s ‘radically humane’ prisons?

Commissioner Dean Williams recently visited Norway, with other Alaska leaders, to see what the Scandinavian country’s prison system does different. Read about a few of his takeaways, here: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/crime-courts/2017/10/10/can-alaska-learn-from-norways-radically-humane-prisons/

Haines police and DOC partner to ensure public safety and pretrial enforcement

Pictured from left to right: Heath Scott, Debra Schnabel, Dean Williams, Geri Miller-Fox, Jan Hill, and Heather Parker.

The Haines Borough Police Department and 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, September 20, 2017, the two agencies stood side-by-side for the signing of the community’s jail contract. The contract is increasing by $31,000 to help supplement the Haines Borough Police Department in their efforts to assist DOC’s Pretrial Enforcement Division with data collection, risk assessments, and the monitoring of individuals placed on pretrial supervision.

“We’re extremely excited to put these agreements in place and it is especially meaningful to finalize the partnership with Haines Borough while they hosted the Southeast Conference,” said Pretrial Enforcement Division Director Geri Fox. “I look forward to collaborating with more local communities throughout Alaska.”

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. These joint efforts will also help ensure that this new criminal justice function supports the department’s public safety priorities, and helps build a stronger and safer Alaska.

The Haines Borough is the first community to partner with the state in this effort, however others are expected to officially join in the next two months. Conversations to explore possible partnerships with other Alaska communities are ongoing. DOC will release information on other community partners, as contracts are signed.

Ketchikan inmates learn about marine safety

Inmates at the Ketchikan Correctional Center recently took part in Alaska Marine Safety Education Association training, sponsored by the Department of Corrections. AMSEA instructor Dug Jensen was at the facility for the three-day class that certified the inmates to be marine safety drill instructors. Many of Ketchikan’s industries are water related and require marine safety instruction certification. Ketchikan Correctional Center is committed to providing inmates skills and certifications that can be used in the local job market as part of its reentry program.

Wildwood inmates help commemorate 9/11

Inmates from Wildwood Correctional Center worked with the American Legion and placed almost 3,000 flags in downtown Kenia in remembrance of the September 11.

Thank you to all of our fallen heroes who sacrificed everything that day 16 years ago. And thank you to all of the brave men and women who continue to protect our country, our people, and our homes.

http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/local/2017-09-12/remembering-911-s-victims#.Wbg0WkS4w9M.email

The Boots on the Ground BBQ

 

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On Wednesday, August 30, 2017 an event take place in Seward, Alaska that has not happened for a long time. Spring Creek Correctional Officers and Alaska Department of Corrections upper management had a chance to get together for some BBQ and conversation. Commissioner Dean Williams and Deputy Commissioner Clare Sullivan both attended a “Boots On The Ground” BBQ coordinated by officer liaison coordinator Aprelle McCarty.

 

The BBQ was held at the American Legion Post 5 in Seward, and graciously hosted by Michael Calhoon, who put together a pulled pork dinner, with baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and chips.

 

The event began at 12 p.m., and it was estimated that about 50 officers took part, which is a great showing, considering some of those officers had to wake up early in order to attend before they went to work on nightshift. Other officers had to come down early from Anchorage, or the Soldotna and Kenai area, as they did not begin work until nightshift the next evening.

 

It was great seeing officers from all four shifts visiting and hanging out together, outside of the workplace. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal, which lent itself to some great conversations, ranging from work topics to Mr. Williams sharing about how he got lost leaving the White House. There would be a group of officers sitting with Mr. Williams, as well as another group sitting with Mrs. Sullivan. Sometimes there was laughter and sometimes there were questions about what the future might look like for DOC.

 

It was a successful day, and an excellent opportunity for upper management and some of those who work right in the midst of things to get to know a little bit more about each other, and work toward bringing unity and success to Alaska DOC.

 

Mr. Williams, Mrs. Sullivan, and a couple of officers ended up closing the place around 10:30 p.m. It was agreed that this was a successful event and that hopefully there will be another in the future. Mr. Williams said that he enjoyed it immensely and that it meant a lot to both of them to be able to spend this time with those officers that could attend. Officer McCarty was very grateful to Mr. Williams, Mrs. Sullivan, Mr. Calhoon, and those officers that came out to show support for the “Boots On The Ground” BBQ. She hopes this could help in the efforts to have everyone working together to make Alaska DOC and every institution, an awesome place to work.

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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