AK DOC Today

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

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.


Community in Unity heads to Nome

In the next installment of Community in Unity, Alaska Public Media is heading to the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome. What will we be talking about? The importance of community connections.

Being incarcerated is hard. So is being released. How are people in prison connecting with their communities and preparing for what’s next? What’s happening outside of prisons to help make the transition more successful for everyone in the community?
Join us for a conversation inside Anvil Mountain Correctional Center with inmates, staff, and other community members to learn about life inside the prison walls and ways to help people succeed on the outside.
The moderated community conversation will be held in the prison’s gym. Light refreshments will be provided.
Please bring a photo ID, and be prepared to check your belongings before going through security.

Community in Unity is Alaska Public Media’s community dialogue series. So far, the program has traveled to the Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, the Fairbanks Correctional Center, and the Goose Creek Correctional Center in Mat-Su.

We hope to see you there.

When: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. The conversation begins at 1 p.m. and will last an hour. It will be recorded for broadcast.


Listen: When prisoners own the store, everyone profits

“But for the past three years, all of the profits from the store have been reinvested in the prison to buy things like equipment for the gym and hobby shop and microwaves for the housing areas. Inmates vote to donate some of the funds to charities outside of the prison, too.”

Learn about the unique prison co-op at Spring Creek, and the sense of purpose and pride it gives to the institutions residents by listening to this story from the Solutions Desk at Alaska Public Media.

More: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/07/25/when-prisoners-own-the-store-everyone-profits/



GCCC CO makes drug bust during visitation

Friday evening, an officer at the Goose Creek Correctional Center noticed a visitor passing contraband to an inmate during visitation. The officer responded quickly and took possession of 10 half strips of Suboxone, which were wrapped in a band aid.

Every time an officer intercepts contraband, they’re making the facility safer for other inmates and for staff. Their work is crucial to the safety at our facilities. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to public service.

The Department of Corrections’ Professional Conduct Unit is investigating the incident.

#SaferAlaska #MyAKGov

Meet Pretrial’s new director

This is Jason Whetsell. He’s the new Pretrial Enforcement Division (PED) Director. He’s planning on using his 20-plus years of Alaska law enforcement experience to lead PED and help grow the young division.

Here’s a few things off of this lifelong Alaskan’s resume:

  • 22 years as a police officer, and most of that time with the Anchorage Police Department.
  • SWAT team member
  • K9 handler and instructor
  • Field training officer
  • Interim chief of police for the Cordova Police Department (the town he was born and raised in).
  • Investigator with DOC’s Professional Conduct Unit

See what he had to say about his new role in this interview with KTVA reporter Daniella Rivera: http://www.ktva.com/story/38722705/meet-the-pretrial-enforcement-divisions-new-director

Geri Miller-Fox, who stood up the young division, will be helping Whetsell transition into the position. Her last day will be Sept. 7. In an email announcing her resignation to DOC personnel in early-July, she said: As some of you may know, I have been working on a Ph.D. for the past few years.  My coursework is completed, and the time has now come for me to focus on writing a dissertation.  A dissertation is the equivalent of writing a book, and as you can imagine, it will consume most of my time. For this reason, I’ve made the bittersweet decision to stepdown.”

We’re so grateful for the work Mrs. Miller-Fox did in her time with the Alaska Department of Corrections, and we wish her nothing but the best as she continues to accomplish her academic goals and on all of other future endeavors. Her passion for public service is truly inspiring.


Spring Creek inmate wins shoes with essay about running

Meet Delano Hall. He’s part of Spring Creek’s new running club. Last month, he and other members of the group had an opportunity to win a new pair of sneakers, thanks to the generous donation of Altra Running.

To win them, the guys had to write an essay about what running means to them. The essays were made anonymous and voted on by DOC staff and Altra Running’s Michael McKnight. Mr. Hall wrote the winning piece.

CO Justin Ennis, the club’s organizer, said: “Our shoes from Altra came in today (Monday) and even though I wasn’t getting them it was like Christmas morning for me too!  I instantly took care of the procedural work to issue him the shoes and got him called over.  He is now the proud recipient of a pair of bad mamajamas!”

He continued and said, “Seeing those shoes out and about on our compound is going to further catapult the popularity and participation of our group- we are up to an average of 20 prisoners per session and that doesn’t include other staff and five dogs that are out there pounding the pavement as well.”

Read Mr. Hall’s winning piece and check out his new kicks, below.