Friday, May 17, 2013
Is Alaska’s Corrections System Efficient And Effective?
Legislators tour Anchorage facility, which corrections officers say is overcrowded
ANCHORAGE—Alaska spends hundreds of millions of dollars on its prison system but is it money well spent?
An Anchorage legislator who recently toured the state’s biggest jail seems satisfied the Department of Corrections is doing its job.
Senator Hollis French is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which helps oversee the corrections budget. He and Senator Bill Wielechowski toured the facility Thursday, talking with staff members and officials there.
French says it’s important that money is being spent efficiently and effectively but says, after the tour, he feels more confident that is the case.
One of the issues that still needs to be resolved, according to French, is overcrowding.
The Anchorage Correctional Center averages more than 50 inmates beyond capacity on any given night. And while officials there insist that hasn’t jeopardized safety at the jail, the union that represents correctional officers strongly disagrees.
Another issue that is a concern to both Hollis and Wielechowski is a lack of programs to help inmates transition back into society and stay out of jail. The recidivism rate is more than 60 percent.
Corrections officials acknowledge that’s a problem, but say it is also the national average.