AK DOC Today

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

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.”

DOC Leadership Conducts Tour of Goose Creek Correctional Facility for Legislators, Staff

Commissioner Joe Schmidt and his leadership team conducted a tour of Goose Creek Correctional Facility on a sunny and warm Tuesday, Oct. 4. The facility will hold 1,500-plus mostly medium security inmates in ten 128-bed mods. Other beds are set aside for medical, punitive and administrative segregation and a transition unit. Here are some photos from the facility taken during the tour:

Alaska Inmates, Families Share at Hudson, Colo. Potlatch

Approximately 25 Alaskan family members participated in an annual Potlatch ceremony held by inmates within the confines of Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado on September 24. Over 200 inmates participated and were joined by 63 family members in all. Opening Ceremony was held at 9 am with performances by Inupiaq drummers and later games and meals. Guest speakers included Anne Frank and Rev. Shirley Lee of Fairbanks and Deputy Commissioner Carmen Gutierrez. The traditional ceremony is held annually at a number of facilities holding Alaska prisoners.

HMCC vocational trainees continue work at Habitat for Humanity project

Hiland Mountain Correctional Center is continuing a collaboration between its Construction Trades vocational training program and Habitat for Humanity in Anchorage. The inmates shown in this slide show are working at one Anchorage build site as the construction season drifts into fall.

“Because of their hard work and enthusiasm, Habitat for Humanity has requested continued assistance from HMCC through the entire build season, which runs through March 2012,” said Superintendent Dean Marshall.

Service Dog classes continue at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center


With a dedicated group of inmate trainers, head trainer Cheri Hagen and community volunteers, service dog training classes are underway at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River. The puppies include, from left to right, Baylee, Bella, Sophi, Cooper and Madison. The department’s program at HMCC has graduated four trained service dogs since the program began in 2009. All have been placed with wounded veterans.

State Fair focus of DOC recruitment effort


The Alaska Department of Corrections has again focused on the Alaska State Fair as a venue for recruitment. The DOC Recruitment Team has taken the lead with a great deal of assistance and support from dedicated department volunteers. “Smiling, shaking hands, handing out pens and answering loads of questions about the Department, our hiring practices and the many facilities around the State, our Officers continued to build its positive relationship between the Department and the fair going public,” said Dan Traxinger, recruitment team leader and Training Academy director. The Recruitment Team will be present at an ambitious roster of public events this fall and into 2012.

Security Training completed at Goose Creek Correctional Center

Goose Creek Correctional Center, in cooperation with contractors and instructors of the Neeser Construction Company, recently completed an intense two-week training course designed to prepare future uniformed and maintenance staff to operate and maintain the institution’s state of the art security electronics systems.


Staff members engaged in classes related to the institution’s surveillance and computer-aided dispatch and communications systems. Staff completing the classes and the final two-day “Stress Test” included:

  • from Goose Creek: Cory Pianko, Assistant Superintendent, and John Yost, Maintenance Superintendent;
  • from Anvil Mountain CC: Lieutenant Lucy Dittmar of A.M.C.C;
  • from Palmer Correctional Centers and Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm: Sergeant Scott Glover, Sergeant John Conant, and Correctional Officer II Greg Steele, Correctional Officer II Jared Pyle, Correctional Officer II Mark Sehl, Correctional Officer II Thomas Leonard, Correctional Officer II Thomas Leonard and Correctional Officer II Freeman Howes.
  • From Anchorage Correctional Complex: Correctional Officer II Lee Pritchett and Correctional Officer II Michael Lovelace.
  • From Spring Creek Correctional Center: Correctional Officer II Brandon Fischer, Correctional Officer II Justin Harrell.
  • from Hiland Mountain Correctional Center: Correctional Officer II Suzie Pyle.
  • Maintenance Specialist Michael Harbaugh and Maintenance Lead Michael Erb

Mr. Pianko and Mr. Yost sincerely thank the Superintendents of the above listed institutions for allowing their staff to attend this vital training and testing of all facets of Goose Creek’s security electronics and future security operations; without the dedication, professionalism and commitment of the above listed staff this crucial mission could not have been completed.

Construction Class a success at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center


When an opportunity arose, AMCC Education Coordinator Howard Appel developed a construction class which as led to NCCER (National Center for Construction and Research) Core Curriculum certification, which will prove a bonus for inmate graduates seeking employment in the building trades upon their release. “From the demolition of the old Voc-Ed building, which had seen many years of use and harsh weather, to the construction of the new Voc-Ed building the participants have been highly motivated and fully engaged in the project,” said Superintendent Mike Dunham. The inmate trainees constructed a 20X24 foot wood-frame structure built to current building codes. The project was completed in two sections, the first being the framing.