AK DOC Today

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

DOC releases July drug seizure report

Our correctional officers work diligently everyday to keep drugs and other contraband out of our facilities. When drugs are discovered, our Professional Conduct Unit works with other law enforcement entities to build cases that go after traffickers.

Thank you to all of our COs and PCU investigators for helping to build a Safer Alaska.

Meet COIV Gail Smithhiser: How the DOC crew got their start in public service

This is Gail Smithhiser, a COIV at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. She’s been with the Department of Corrections since 2006, when she started as a CO I. But before that she was crowned Miss Arctic Native Brotherhood 2001. The same year, she was sent to participate in the Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics in Fairbanks.

“Although I did not place, it was an amazing opportunity to show my public speaking and leadership abilities,” Smithhisler said.

Turns out, it runs in the family. He mother was crowned Miss Arctic Native Brotherhood in 1973 and her aunt was also crowned in 1975. (How cool is that?!)

When she began her career with us, she liked the idea of a week on, week off schedule. But after more than a decade, she says her appreciation for the job is much deeper than that.

“Once employed, I found that I enjoyed working with people and making sure that, at the end of the day, everyone was safe prior to being able to go home. What appealed to me about my current position was the challenge of working on difficult time accounting records and maintaining the Records department to ensure we were in compliance with Policy & Procedure and statute. I enjoy what I do and love the feeling of successfully overcoming difficult challenges with my position.”

So what has been her greatest lesson about public service?

“From my time working on shift, I was able to interact with many different people among our facility’s population. From that, I learned the importance of treating people with humanity. That didn’t mean being a sympathizer or giving people pity; it meant treating everyone with humaneness and using empathy to create a safer environment and atmosphere. Those of us in DOC are constantly observed by our populations and therefore, we have the greatest opportunity to demonstrate appropriate behavior in all types of situations. I learned that that meant talking with people, discussing making healthier and better life choices, acknowledging that the change they want to make is difficult but attainable, and making sure they knew how to be held accountable for their actions, just as I’m held accountable for mine. This type of public service is not for everyone, but you have a great opportunity to make a difference with very few chances of receiving acknowledgment or kudos.”

Thank you for your service Officer Smithhiser. Your service to Alaskans is invaluable, and we’re proud to call you one of ours!

Are you a DOC employee interested in sharing your public service story? If so, email public information officer Megan Edge at megan.edge@alaska.gov.

In Spring Creek running program, COs and inmates run side-by-side

“Early one morning in the yard at Spring Creek Correctional Center, an inmate approached Sgt. Justin Ennis. A group of fifteen men incarcerated at the institution had just completed an hour-long run around the yard, part of a program that gives inmates an opportunity to leave their cells early for a morning jog alongside correctional officers.”

Learn more in this story by the Seward Journal: https://www.sewardjournal.com/news/local/officers-inmates-run-side-by-side-at-spring-creek/article_7bea9ba0-a08c-11e8-b8c6-9b10dbb2edfe.html#utm_campaign=blox&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

Listen: Prison art market has its limits

“Spring Creek Correctional Center has a unique legal internal economy. The inmates run a prison store that sells food, hygiene items, and clothing. Profits from the store stay inside the facility and are divided up between nine different funds, including one that provides equipment for the hobby shop.”

Learn more about the hobby shop by listening to this story from the Solutions Desk at Alaska Public Media. Click, here: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/08/08/prison-art-market-has-its-limits/

Pt. Mackenzie Correctional Farm hosts annual BBQ

Superintendent Anderson and her incredible team at the Pt. Mackenzie Correctional Farm welcomed visitors from the community, as well as DOC employees and their families to the annual Pt. Mackenzie Farm picnic. Attendees enjoyed picnic foods prepared with fresh ingredients from the farm, hayrides, yard games, and a beautiful sunny day.

Point Mackenzie’s primary mission is to provide a transition between the traditional correctional center and the community for the offender. Point Mackenzie staff strive to compliment this transition through involving offenders in industrial, agricultural, service and technological oriented enterprise which can provide meaningful employment for them upon their release. Today’s picnic showcased these efforts.

Keep up the great work, Superintendent Anderson and team!

Institutional Investigator Certification graduates its first class

The Department of Corrections recently graduated its first 16 correctional officers trained as Institutional Investigators from the Anchorage Correctional Complex. The two day, 16-hour Institutional Investigator class was designed to provide officers investigative guidelines, knowledge, and skills in order to affect prosecutable criminal cases and to assist the Alaska State Troopers and DOC Investigators to properly preserve, document, and investigate crimes within DOC institutions.

The officers were instructed by ex-law enforcement officers and current DOC investigators Glen Klinkhart, Troy Henley, and Berni Troglio.

Over the two day class officers learned such investigative skills as:

  • Criminal Law
  • Crime Scene Response
  • Protection of a crime scene
  • Investigative Documentation
  • Crime Scene Photography
  • Physical Evidence Collection
  • Diagramming
  • Evidence Packaging
  • Interviewing and Interrogation
  • Report Writing

For the officers final project the new investigators had to respond to a simulated crime scene, develop a plan to properly preserve and document the scene, and properly seize all of the potential evidence. The students then had to locate and interview victims, witnesses, and suspects all the while attempting to develop a criminal case based upon the evidence seized.

Some of the feedback from the students included:

“The instructors were very engaged and entertaining.”

“The instructor was very knowledgeable and presented the information in an energetic manner in a low stress way.”

“The scenarios were right on point and the snacks were a nice touch!”

“I enjoyed the hands-on portions of the class as well as the case studies that were presented.”

“Every correctional officer should be equipped with this kind of knowledge.”

At the Anchorage Correctional Center those officers who passed the class are eligible to use some new tools, including one of several smart phones designed to assist in taking photographs, video, interviews, and diagramming potential crime scenes.

  

Meet Superintendent Lapinskas: How the DOC crew got their start in public service

Our organization is made up of all kinds of people, many with years or decades of dedicated public service under their belts. Our state is safer and stronger because of their knowledge and hearts for helping and protecting their communities.

Over the course of the following weeks and months, we’ll be telling the stories of our DOC family and sharing how they got their start in public service.

Take a look at that #tbt picture below; that’s Bill Lapinskas in 1988. At the time, he was a squad boss on the Chugach #1 Fire Crew and dispatched to Idaho. This picture was snapped in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness which is in the Nez Pearce National Forest.

A lot’s changed since then. Bill joined DOC in 1993 and worked his way up the ranks. Now, he’s the superintendent of the Spring Creek Correctional Center, our maximum-security prison in Seward.

But to do this day, Bill says his time as a wildland firefighter “was one of the most rewarding jobs I ever had.”

We’re so grateful to have Bill on our team. He’s a great leader, and his dedication to public service is nothing short of inspiring. Thanks for everything you do, Superintendent.

KCC helps clean up the community

Ketchikan Correctional Center performed a valuable service project last week. Chaise Peters, Spencer Inkster and Daniel Mann helped Superintendent Mathews rid their area of an invasive weed named Tansy Ragwort. It is toxic and kills livestock and deer if eaten, it overtakes local flora and fauna and removes native plants and appearance.

This is an extremely hard to remove invasive species. But the team from KCC worked extremely hard, and removed weeds from several private properties, and the Alaska State Trooper post and Arrowhead fuel service.

 

 

Listen: Philanthropic horticulturists and other prison community leaders

“The flow of money inside Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward and the way it’s used to meet community needs is surprisingly similar to the world outside of the prison walls, even down to the donut sales to raise money for a good cause.

At the heart of that economy is the prison store, where inmates can buy everything from $1 frozen burrito to a $15 bag of coffee along with bars of soap and new underwear. Think of it as the one store in a small Alaska village.”

Learn more about the Spring Creek economy in this story from Alaska Public Media: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/08/01/philanthropic-horticulturists-and-other-prison-community-leaders/

 

 

 

Nome Screening of ‘Breaking the Cycle’ + Conversation w/ DOC about what AK can learn from Norway

The Department of Corrections presents a screening of the documentary, “Breaking the Cycle.” The hour-long film follows the warden of Halden — Norway’s most humane prison that’s showing promising results — tours the U.S. prison system to discuss the importance of rehabilitation in incarceration.

The screening will follow a discussion and Q & A with Commissioner Dean Williams.

Watch the trailer, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QNCwLEobZI

The event is free to the public.