AK DOC Today

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

26 Spring Creek COs graduate Institutional Investigator course

DOC Investigators graduated 26 correctional officers from the two two-day Institutional Investigator training classes on October 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. The two teams of Correctional Officer Investigators learned criminal statutes, evidence preservation, collection, and criminal investigation tactics. Each team was broken up into groups and competed in crime scene response for their final test.

The crime scene involved a mock inmate-on- inmate assault where the investigators had to determine the size of the scene, the items to be preserved and collected, and what the evidence meant when it was all put together.

By the time the instructors left the facility, officers from the first class had already developed two real life criminal drug cases against inmates, which DOC Investigators will be putting together for possible criminal charges against one or more inmates.

This was some of the feedback we received from the graduates:

“Every Officer in the institution should do this class. Keep up the good work!” – COIII

“I loved the way the instructors broke down the criminal and death investigations in plain speak and made appropriate to our work as corrections officers.” – COII

“Give this class to the CO/PO academies!” – COII

“I feel a lot more confident about handling scene and evidence collection.” – COII

Spring Creek helps rejuvenate Woodlawn Cemetery

Seward’s historic “Woodlawn Cemetery” is modest. On a small corner of an outlying neighborhood, it sits nestled among spruce, fern and moss. The simple, wooden crosses are surrounded by white, picket fences. The paint is peeling and the wood is rotting as Nature tries to reclaim it all. In another part of the country, the name “Woodlawn Cemetery” might conjure up an image of something expansive and grand. But this is Alaska, a land of nature’s extremes and the home to mere handfuls of non-native, early, settlers.

The cemetery is a portal to another time.

Interred there are veterans of the Spanish American War and those who “arrived by steamer.”  There are mothers, infants, lumberjacks, fishermen, railroad workers, prominent citizens, and ladies who “worked at home.”

The obituaries in the local papers were peppered with adverts for Stetson hats, for “cheap lots”, for Sears, Roebuck & Co., and for hotel rooms “out of the fire zone.” They ran headlines about WW I (“French Retake a Town”), and there were articles about scandalous local crime (“White Slave Dealer Caught…selling girls for immoral purposes.”).

So many died so young.

Little Anna Marie lived just 5 days.  The paper quoted the coroner: “undertimed child and inability to assimilate food.”

Some died in the line of duty. The year 1917 was a particularly bad one for Seward’s law enforcement.

Night Marshall, Grey Dority, was “shot through the heart…in the performance of duty and self-defense.” The obit described               police officer and Fire Chief Charles Wiley’s death as “homicidal by desperado.”

Some died of natural causes. Death by childbirth, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and heart exhaustion, appear again and again.

“Well known man-about-town passes away while sitting in a saloon chair.”

Some died of unnatural causes. In 1917, a barber died of “poisoning.” There were suicides and even a drug overdose.

And so many died in work accidents.

 “Fatally hurt by pile driver.” “A rock fell from the bluff and killed him.” “Accidental fracture of skull.”

And famously in 1919, Seward bid goodbye to “one-armed Sullivan,” a celebrated railroad worker who it was said could out-shovel any two-armed man. One-armed Sullivan literally lost his head to the train.

Woodlawn Cemetery has found its guardian angel in Marie Gage. Well known locally for her extensive charitable work, she is perhaps less well known as a retired corrections officer and sergeant at Spring Creek Correctional Center. Ms. Gage knowns how to combine those two personas to her best advantage. “Since 1999, prisoners from Spring Creek have worked on the restoration of the Woodlawn cemetery,” she explains. That year, they replaced the wooden crosses, which are again succumbing to time and to the elements. “This year, with the help of Superintendent Bill Lapinskas, the prisoners are making permanent grave markers.”

“I was approached last summer by Ms. Gage,” Bill Lapinskas explained. “She had used the prison industries program years ago to make the markers and those markers are now at a point that repair is not really an option. Anything short of replacement was just a band aid and would be pushing the problem down the road. After some conversation with the men in Voc-ed (the vocational part of the prison’s education department), it was decided that we would try our hand as casting our own headstones out of cement. After a few less than favorable results—and a lot of YouTube videos—we are creating some pretty nice pieces that should last a very long time. My hope is to create two or more replacements a month, as time and as resources  allow.” Donations are coming in from individuals and, just recently, Seward Resurrection Bay Lions donated 18 bags of Quickcrete.

Too bad that one-armed Sullivan isn’t here to lend a hand.

— By Iva Cooney, Institutional Parole Officer

From ADN: Rethinking Alaska’s only maximum-security prison

Last month, the Anchorage Daily News spent a day with Spring Creek Correctional Center superintendent Bill Lapinskas.

They discussed a lot — from ethics and morals to solitary confinement and mental health.

“Rather than menace them and just enforce rules every day, why aren’t we trying to invoke change? Real change,” (Lapinskas) said. “Not force it, but entice it and seduce it and get it out of these guys through meaningful conversation and decency.”

Read more: https://www.adn.com/features/alaska-news/crime-courts/2018/10/26/rethinking-spring-creek/?fbclid=IwAR3wktDeCKcQqykNwDVqIXIPYSI0uP1I5Lab0gvQ1moug40LqHYpTg0WcA8

Meet Assistant Superintendent Marianna Miranda : How the DOC crew got their start in public service

Did you miss our #tbt from last week on Facebook?  We introduced Assistant Superintendent Marianna Miranda from Spring Creek Correctional Center. She’s worked at the Seward prison since 1995, but before that she thought she might take a different path.

In 1986, she attended school in Hawaii studying Travel Industry Management.

“That is when I was introduced to all things Aloha and fell in love with the place, traditions, food and especially the people. Going to school in Hawaii was and is such a huge part of who I am still to this day. I thoroughly enjoyed college and my time there. I thought it was the most perfect place on earth and still do vacationing with my family there as much as possible,” she explained.

(She even married her husband on a Kona beach.)

When she returned home to Alaska, she worked in the travel industry in Anchorage. She says she “stumbled” into her law enforcement career while working at a hotel in Valdez. The chief of police had an opening for a dispatcher and convinced her to apply.

“The Valdez Police Department was such a positive and supportive bunch to work with that soon I had the confidence to apply and work as a jailer for the City of Seward’s Jail. While working for the Valdez Police Department I attended the Departments Correctional Academy.”

A few years later, she moved to Seward and worked at the local jail until she started her career at Spring Creek.

“The rest is as they say, history,” Marianna said. “I didn’t plan a career in corrections or law enforcement for that matter, but I’m proud to have been given the opportunity to work with so many talented and dedicated individuals along the way.”

Thank you for your dedication to Alaskans, Marianna. We’re grateful for everyday of your service to this department, this state, and your community.

Are you a DOC employee interested in sharing your public service story? If so, email public information officer Megan Edge at megan.edge@alaska.gov.


Spring Creek donates fire engine to honor Virginia Ingersoll

In honor of Virginia Gail Ingersoll, Spring Creek inmates created this replica of the Moose Pass Fire Department’s fire engine.

Ingersoll was the board president of the Moose Pass Fire Department, and volunteered there, as well. Ingersoll was a dedicated public servant and member her community. On May 2, she passed away.

She’ll forever be missed.

In Spring Creek running program, COs and inmates run side-by-side

“Early one morning in the yard at Spring Creek Correctional Center, an inmate approached Sgt. Justin Ennis. A group of fifteen men incarcerated at the institution had just completed an hour-long run around the yard, part of a program that gives inmates an opportunity to leave their cells early for a morning jog alongside correctional officers.”

Learn more in this story by the Seward Journal: https://www.sewardjournal.com/news/local/officers-inmates-run-side-by-side-at-spring-creek/article_7bea9ba0-a08c-11e8-b8c6-9b10dbb2edfe.html#utm_campaign=blox&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

Listen: Prison art market has its limits

“Spring Creek Correctional Center has a unique legal internal economy. The inmates run a prison store that sells food, hygiene items, and clothing. Profits from the store stay inside the facility and are divided up between nine different funds, including one that provides equipment for the hobby shop.”

Learn more about the hobby shop by listening to this story from the Solutions Desk at Alaska Public Media. Click, here: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/08/08/prison-art-market-has-its-limits/

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/




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/



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.