AK DOC Today

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

God Behind Bars Collaborative Effort of Chaplaincy Office

God Behind Bars (GBB) is a program that began approximately three years ago in Nevada and has rapidly spread to prisons in Oklahoma, Colorado, and now in Alaska. The program consists of four parts. Part one is an HD presentation of a church service from Central Christian Church of Las Vegas NV. This church (seventh largest in USA) shares their service with over 30,000 people every week both in person, on line, and in campuses throughout the US and over 30 countries. Beginning September 28 the services are now shown at Hiland Mountain CC on Friday evenings to over 100 inmates each night. Central Christian Church has partnered with a local Anchorage church, Faith Christian Community and is sharing their services on a part time basis.

Part two of GBB is the introduction of Celebrate Recovery, a 12 step program similar to the AA 12-step program. Celebrate Recovery not only targets drug and alcohol addiction but is very successful in addressing all hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Celebrate Recovery is scheduled to begin at Hiland CC in November this year.

Part three of GBB centers around helping inmates gain job skills while still in prison to be useful in gaining employment once they are released. Partnering with existing programs will be the goal in this area since Alaska, unlike other states, already has many programs addressing this need.

Part four of GBB emphasizes the importance of helping inmates immediately upon their release. Partnering with the Alaska Prisoner Re-entry Task Force is paramount. As was true with part three, Alaska is ahead of other states and is fortunate to have this task force. GBB has already made this connection and will be bringing ideas that have worked in other states to the table.

One of the greatest attributes of this program is that it runs at no cost to the state. It is directed totally by volunteers and donations. It partners with local churches, Alaskan Correctional Ministries and other concerned individuals.

Superintendents, Field Office Leads Meet at Palmer

2012 Superintendents Meeting

Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti was keynote speaker at the opening session of the annual Superintendents Conference, held Oct. 9-10 at the department’s Training Academy in Palmer. Superintendents and Probation Supervisors met, along with division directors to share information and hear reports on yearly progress and new initiatives.

Department speaks to Evidence Based Sentencing at Judicial Conference

The Department of Corrections was privileged to be invited to participate in the 2012 Judicial Conference. Alaska Court of Appeals Judge Joel H. Bolger, responsible for the conference curriculum, invited the department to discuss Evidence Based Sentencing.

Commissioner Joe Schmidt offered opening comments, telling over 100 judges how important he views a collaborative relationship between the judiciary and DOC. Deputy Commissioner Carmen Gutierreez moderated a panel discussion led by Chief Probation Officers Keith Thayer, Rebecca Brunger and Martie Correa. Thayer and Correa provided an explanation of, and answered questions on, the Level of Service Inventory, Revised (LSI-R), how it’s used in the institutions and by field probation officers. Brunger provided the results of DOC’s examination of LSI-R data regarding risk levels of current probationers and the new direction for probationer supervision. DOC also offered suggestions regarding the practical applications of the LSI-R tool at sentencing and during PTRP (petition to revoke probation) disposition hearings.

Wanted: Staff to Volunteer for Annual SHARE Campaign


It is that time of year. Richard Schmitz, department SHARE Coordinator, is seeking volunteer “key workers” for the annual SHARE CAMPAIGN, particularly in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Mat-Su as well as individual institutions and field offices. Once identified, keyworkers will be asked to attend a training session for an hour or so (Sept. 5 in Juneau, Sept. 11 in Fairbanks, Sept. 13 in Anchorage Atwood Building, and Sept. 14 in Anchorage Frontier Building) if close by. There is alternative training for volunteers who are not located close to these locations.
Please contact Richard Schmitz if you would like to VOLUNTEER to be a SHARE KEY WORKER for 2012.


DOC participants gain working knowledge at BAIID conference

BAIID Conference

Conference participants, from left, Probation Officer Chris McKenzie, Probation Officer Stefanie Hayes, Procurement Manager John Schauwecker

The Department of Corrections is the agency which is responsible for certifying BAIIDs … that’s Blood Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices. That task falls on Procurement, which is why procurement chief John Schauwecker participated in a two-day conference at the Anchorage Police Department training center July 23-24th. Regulations require BAIID vendors to report violations – for example when the device prevents a car from starting because the operator’s breath alcohol level is too high. For that reason Probation Officers Chris McKenzie and Stefanie Hayes attended the conference with a goal of learning more about the devices and how to access reports of violations by probationers required to use the devices. The conference was conducted by Ottawa, Canada-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

Commissioner Meets With Interior Alaska Native, Rural Leaders


Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt led a department team in a round-table discussion with Interior Alaska Native and Rural leaders in Fairbanks December 8th. The agenda included Goose Creek prison, probation and parole, recruitment, programming, reducing recidivism and the role of communities in supporting successful prisoner re-entry into the community. The meetings have become an annual event. This year the commissioner was joined by Attorney General John Burns and Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters. The round-table was organized by Dorothy Shockley, staff to Sen. Albert Kookesh. Participating organizations included Steve Ginnis representing the Fairbanks Native Association, Jerry Isaac of Tanana Chiefs, Rev. Anna Frank of the Episcopal Diocese and Native Justice Advocate Shirley Lee.

Supervisors Conference Features Vision of Department Direction

The inaugural three-day Department of Corrections Supervisors Conference concluded Oct 13 with a tour of Goose Creek Correctional Center. During the three day event, Superintendents, Probation Supervisors, department leadership, medical, education and program specialists met at the Training Academy in Palmer to share ideas, experiences and a vision for the future.

Collaborative ‘Bridge to Success’ at HMCC Leads to National Award

An Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development employment specialist has been recognized for outstanding dedication to customers and colleagues, and extraordinary service to the local community.
Sheila Baker, who works at the Eagle River Job Center, was honored today by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies with the James F. Walls Award during its annual meeting.
After more than 20 years in the bail bond industry in New Mexico, Baker relocated to Alaska four years ago and began working as a trainee in the Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training program. The program helps workers reenter the workforce.


Her unique background has helped contribute to the success of “Bridge to Success” for inmates at Alaska’s all-female Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and a training curriculum for MASST trainees.
“From her years in the bail bond industry, Sheila understands there’s a connection between finding work promptly after release and not returning to prison,” Bishop said. “She delivers the seven-week ‘Bridge to Success’ intensive employment training for inmates who are within six months of being released.”

Baker worked with the Alaska Department of Corrections to also provide testing for the ACT WorkKeys/National Career Readiness Certificate to inmates. The NCRC is used as a tool to help inmates show employers their job skills and also that these inmates are proactively trying to turn their lives around while in prison. In just 18 months, 134 inmates have obtained an NCRC prior to being released.
“While the program is still young, a three-year review of recidivism rates for inmates participating in ‘Bridge to Success’ prior to release shows a rate less than half of the general inmate population, with one group of participating inmates from 2009-2010 having no recidivism as of March,” Labor Deputy Commissioner Tom Nelson said.

“We applaud Sheila Baker and the Department of Labor for outstanding work to promote successful prisoner reentry and look forward to continued collaboration,” said Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Carmen Gutierrez. “Employment plays a key component in a former prisoner’s ability to reintegrate back into a community.”