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The following is a greeting given in one of the 20 indigenous languages recognized by the State of Alaska.

AK DOC Today

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

DOC receives $1 million grant to enhance recidivism reduction efforts

The Department of Corrections (DOC) is pleased to announce that Alaska recently became one of three states awarded the federal Second Chance Grant. This funding will further enhance efforts to reduce the state’s steep recidivism rate and to cultivate stronger and safer communities statewide.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Assistance, allocates $1 million over the course of two years to Alaska’s correctional system. Utah and Delaware are also recipients.

“We are thrilled about the opportunities we now have to enhance reentry department-wide,” DOC Deputy Commissioner of Transitional Services Karen Cann said. “Reentry really begins the day an offender walks through the doors of one of our facilities. For the Department of Corrections to truly correct behavior, we must have well-trained staff, offer programming, teach job skills, and provide behavior health services. And when offenders are getting ready to release, we must have a system in place that connects reentrants to community resources capable of assisting in that often-challenging transition.”

DOC has been developing a strategic reentry plan with statewide community partners since 2017, when the department was awarded the $100,000 Second Chance Act Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction Strategic Planning Program grant. This summer, the plan was submitted to DOJ for their consideration to allocate DOC the additional implementation funding. Alaska DOC accepted the Second Chance Grant on October 4, 2018.

As detailed in the strategic plan, funding will be used for training, programming, case planning tools, direct services, peer support in and out of our institutions, modifications to the Alaska Correctional Offender Management System, as well as to pay the wages of the required grant manager and research partner.

“This plan is really dependent on communication and coordination, not just within DOC but with our communities,” DOC Reentry Program Manager Morgen Jaco explained. “There needs to be communication with offenders about their needs and goals, between line staff and superintendents, and between probation officers and community partners. The goal is for every incarcerated person to have one case plan – disseminated out to all relevant parties, so everyone knows that person’s requirements, the programming they’re enrolled in, and the services they need.”

Alaska has a recidivism rate of 66.41 percent, with two-thirds of those individuals returning to custody within the first six months. The state defines recidivism as any return to custody within the first three years of release.

Lowering the re-offense rate by using evidence-based practices will have wide-reaching impacts that will improve public safety across the state.

A letter from reentry

Hello ADOC,

I’m writing today to catch you all up to speed on some of the reentry efforts underway within the department.  I’ve worked with many of you over the years, but I know there are many I haven’t had the pleasure of working with yet. Hopefully, that changes soon. To make effective changes, we’re going to have to work together and we’re going to need your input. As we move through these next months, you might hear the word “reentry” being utilized more. Why?  There is a greater understanding that for healthier communities, happier families, lower recidivism rates and a safer Alaska; the focus needs to be on reentry.

We have gone through some massive criminal justice reform efforts, which includes changing the way we interact and work with individuals in our system at many different points.  This was a lot of hard work that YOU did and yes dare I say it — a lot of change.  ADOC is primed now more than ever to make impactful changes and provide effective interventions to individuals within corrections.  With increased communication and coordination between our department, community agencies, and all the other stakeholders, we can decrease recidivism rates and make changes that increase the safety of our neighborhoods.

Reentry encompasses everything. It begins on remand, continues during incarceration through programming, treatment, and release planning, and continues post-release through the guidance of POs and the assistance of community partners.  Reentry is not new and ADOC has been working on it for years; however, the demographics of our population have changed, as have our service providers and the way we interact and communicatewith outside agencies.  Therefore we will continue to assess our reentry efforts.

There are many drivers of recidivism and quite frankly, I think some of the innovative ways we are addressing them are pretty cool.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Development of the DOI Transitional Work Opportunity (TWO) and Community Electronic Monitoring P&P.  This enhances the use of EM as a transition tool for employment and vocational purposes (shout out to WWCC). The TWO Interim policy can be accessed here.
  • Development of the Volunteer In-Reach Program (VIP) and Qualified Community Representative (QCR) Policies.  This helps standardize the way we work with various service agencies and interact with community members to supplement an Institutional need.  This also developed a training curriculum for VIP’s and QCR’s that will ensure everyone is properly trained (shout out to all the Institutional folks who provided input — there has been a lot along the way-kudos to LCCC and the Academy on the comprehensive training curriculum).  The Volunteer In-Reach Program policy can be accessed here and the Day Pass Program policy can be accessed here.
  • Focus on different Transitional Housing Models.  I won’t say too much on this, but this makes me happy as it acknowledges “not one size fits all” with reentry.

I have been told I need to keep this short and sweet but get me talking about reentry and I don’t want to stop.  One more thing I want to mention is ADOC’s Statewide Reducing Recidivism Strategic Planning Grant (SRR).  While in its planning phase currently, we will be submitting a proposal for implementation funds of up to $3 million within the next month.  We received this grant based off something mentioned above; the need for increased communication and collaboration.  The lack of this minimizes the effectiveness of our efforts that we have taken during this criminal justice reform.  During this planning period we are looking at ways to enhance a Coordination of Care Model within ADOC and its vast number of partners.

I will continue to provide updates as we move forward with reentry efforts and strategic planning within ADOC.  I look forward to working with everyone in the future, please contact me at any time with questions or comments and visit the ADOC website/reentry for updates as well.  June 7th we will be having a “lunch and learn” to discuss AA as a resource as well as the VIP and QCR policies.  This is an opportunity to learn about resources and things that are currently happening within ADOC.  Please see the  flyer for more details.

Thank you and have a great day,

Morgen Jaco


As prisoners imagine life on the outside, can technology help them stay out?

Kodiak event celebrates reentry successes

On March 16, 2018 PO III Jill Bunting and the Kodiak Area Mentor Program (KAMP) teamed up to hold the Second Annual Reentry Recognition Kodiak event at the Roy H. Madsen Justice Center in Kodiak, Alaska.

This year’s program started with Department of Corrections recognizing Threshold Recycling for their partnership in employing one of the speakers as an intern at their facility. Threshold Recycling has been a partner with Department of Corrections for decades as a community work service location. Last year Threshold took their involvement to the next level by employing one of the speakers as an intern and subsequently as a paid employee. Through this work experience, the individual was able to obtain full time employment at a local business. This individual had not previously worked for many years and at the time she started probation, she was not confident in her ability to obtain and maintain employment at all. Through the partnership with Threshold, this individual has returned to the workforce which has enriched her life financially and socially.

Thank you, Threshold Recycling!

Two local employers were also recognized for their partnership in reentry efforts. However, they humbly wished to remain anonymous, expressing the desire to continue to assist this population with no recognition.

Probation Officer Bunting presented their certificates of appreciation to Teresa Slaughter, Executive Director of Kodiak Area Mentor Program, to present to the employers privately.

Before the speakers took the podium, Probation Officer Bunting recognized Teresa Slaughter for her service as Kodiak Area Mentor Program founder and Executive Director. Teresa is leaving the island and her position will be taken over by Jonathan Strong.

Teresa, in partnership with Probation Officer Bunting, founded the Kodiak Area Mentor Program in May 2014. Since then the program has grown into a nonprofit networking organization that assists people through faith-based mentoring relationships in the Kodiak Jail, in the community, and through letter writing to individuals in prison.

Probation Officer Bunting began the next part of the program with an explanation of how this event to recognize reentry successes began in 2017 and how speakers are selected. The genesis of this event arose from a desire to recognize some individuals who, through their hard work and determination, have experienced successful completion of probation and far beyond that goal. This recognition has also proved valuable to the Court, law enforcement, the legal community and others who have interacted with these individuals and been a part of their journey. The qualifications to be a speaker at this event were: successful completion of probation, no criminal matters pending, employment, housing, transportation and living a changed life. Probation Officer Bunting emphasized that although public speaking is not comfortable for everyone, each of the speakers has an important message for the community and this is a skill that can help them communicate this. She explained that the speakers were invited months ago and coached by Kodiak Area Mentor Program mentors and other individuals to polish their speeches and make the most of the short time they had at the podium.

Four speakers told moving stories of how they worked to achieve sobriety and how their experiences have impacted their friends and families. Each speaker was given three minutes to address Judge Steve Cole and the members of the audience that packed the courtroom. They told their stories of recovery and victory over substance abuse. They recognized the people in their lives that helped them in their journey. Each speaker was presented with a Certificate of Achievement by Probation Officer Bunting.

Two of the four speakers have been participants in the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA) while on probation supervision and through their success in that program they were able to qualify to receive other program assistance and have their own apartments.

After the speeches were presented the floor was turned over to Judge Cole who spoke to the audience and speakers about how moved he was at hearing each individual’s presentation.   Afterward, a reception was held with cookies, coffee and conversation where members of the audience could talk with the speakers individually and learn more about them.

Inmates graduate reentry class in Ketchikan

The Ketchikan Correctional Center continues to work hard to make sure that reentrants can be successful when they return to the community. Graduates of a recent reentry class learned valuable work search, job interviewing, resume and budgeting skills. From left to right, Jordan Joplin, Mathew Martinez, Engle Noble, Jeremy Sheldon and Adam Williams.

Commissioner Williams visits Southwest fish processing plant, explores possibilities

Earlier this week, Commissioner Dean Williams had the opportunity to visit a fish processing plant in Ekuk, just outside of Dillingham, with the facility’s owner, Jerry Hall, and PO Rexford Spofford. Commissioner Williams is exploring the idea of allowing inmates, near the end of their sentence, an opportunity to work at the camp during the fishing season.

Employment remains an important strategy to reduce the high recidivism rate of returning citizens.

DOC awarded Second Chance grant

The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) is pleased to announce that earlier this month we were awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Assistance that will help us better fight and lower the state’s recidivism rate.

As Alaska’s criminal justice reform efforts continue to expand, and the state combats growing crime rates and an opioid epidemic, the Second Chance Act Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction Strategic Planning Program grant will enhance DOC’s ability to do our part in creating a stronger and safer Alaska.

This grant will give us a chance to realign and focus our recidivism reduction efforts with our many community partners, who are crucial to the reentry process and reform efforts, while also allowing us to research the drivers of recidivism, establish Alaska’s recidivism reduction goals, review the alignment of existing DOC programs and policies with evidence-based practices, and develop a strategic plan to reach our recidivism reduction goals.

After a year of strategic plan development, DOC will apply for the second phase of the grant, which could allot up to $3 million for the plan’s implementation.

Currently, about two-thirds of people released from incarceration return to prison. This statistic has impacts far and wide across Alaska. The work we’ll be able to start and enhance with this funding will help us further build a solid foundation for reentry services that will help slow down the seemingly ever-revolving door of incarceration.

DOC talks reentry at Bear Tooth

Corrections and criminal justice is a complex beast, sometimes hard to explain and hard to understand. So last week we did something a little bit different — we decided to host and start a community conversation about what it takes for someone to be successful in society after being released from prison.

In Alaska, two out of three individuals recidivate after release from incarceration. Collateral consequences are large and impact every community throughout the state. One successful reentrant empowers not only themselves, but also their children and families. Their success directly affects ours; when we help a transitioning individual, we are helping our neighbors, our local businesses and ultimately the place we all call home. This is a hand-up not a hand-out; they cannot do it alone.

We want to thank everyone from the community who attended. We hope this was just the start of a much larger conversation about reentry, and that it was just one of many conversations between DOC and the community.

A big shout of to our panelists; Professionals from Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc., Alaska Ironworkers, New Life Development-Anchorage, and Alaska Public Media, and the three reentrants who clawed their way through the criminal justice system. Thank you, your work and determination is inspiring.




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Pitfalls & Perseverance: The Journey of a Reentrant

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In Alaska, two out of three individuals recidivate after release from incarceration. Collateral consequences are large and impact every community throughout the state. One successful reentrant empowers not only themselves, but also their children and families. Their success directly affects ours; when we help a transitioning individual, we are helping our neighbors, our local businesses and ultimately the place we all call home. This is a hand-up not a hand-out; they cannot do it alone (it takes a village to raise a child).

So join us, on August 25. Everyone’s welcome and admission is free.