AK DOC Today

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

Commissioner Meets With Interior Alaska Native, Rural Leaders

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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.

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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.”

Officer Lynn Hays named Denali Award winner for Crisis Response

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On November 22, 2010 Officer Hays left home to begin his work day. There were many accidents that morning due to a steady freezing rain that left roadways treacherous and ice-covered. Monitoring the radio, Officer Hays became aware of an accident close to his location where a pregnant woman was trapped in her vehicle. With the nearest emergency responder 45 minutes away, Officer Hays radioed that he was two minutes from the location and was responding. Upon arrival, Officer Hays assessed a three-vehicle accident and located the trapped individual. After assessing the woman’s condition Officer Hays communicated with responders and attempted to alert oncoming traffic. With road conditions extremely icy, an additional five vehicles crashed around him. Officer Hays then closed the section of road stopping traffic and likely preventing additional collisions and perhaps injuries. Officer Hays flagged a tow-truck and directed the operator to begin to clear some of the crashed vehicles. State Troopers responded, but were quickly called away by another emergency at a nearby location. Officer Hays remained on the scene, collecting pertinent information and electing to re-open the road when a sanding truck arrived. Prison Transportation Officer Hays demonstrated his willingness to assist and protect the public in a challenging situation.

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Officer Lynn Hays began his career with the Department of Corrections in 1996, and joined the Central Transportation Unit in 2005. He is known for his professionalism in the most difficult of circumstances.

Service dog candidate on its way to Eagle River

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A puppy donated by a breeder in Illinois is on its way to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center where it will be the newest Service Dog In Training. The puppy donation is fruit borne of an informal meeting between staff of HMCC, organizers of Arctic Paws for Service, and Sr. Paulina Quinn of Pathways to Hope. The puppy will come to Alaska from Dwight Correctional Center, where a Service Dog Training program is in place. The puppy is a Labrador. “He has white on his front and probably this is why he was not kept for show,” said Sr. Paulina in an email. “He has spunk when he plays. He hadn’t been on a leash before but handled everything. He lights up when he sees other dogs. He is quiet, just taking everything in without showing fear.” The puppy is expected in Alaska before April 15.