The number of Alaska Natives or American Indians in prison has nearly doubled within the last two decades-- that's according to U.S. Department of Justice Statistics.

Social justice was a topic of discussion at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention Thursday.

Panelists spoke about the state's new approach to criminal justice, through Senate Bill 91, with an emphasis on alternatives to prison.

While state lawmakers work on changes to the law in a special session this month, village councils are working on their own solution: creating job centers in hopes of reducing recidivism.

“This is a very new initiative, since opening in January of 2017, over 50 clients have become directly employed because of a job center employment lead, and hundreds more have been served through professional or vocational training,” said Vivian Korthuis, with the Association of Village Council Presidents.

Lawmakers will work on criminal justice reform in a special session starting Monday in Juneau.