Alaska's prisons will be getting federal help in fighting recidivism. The state Department of Corrections is getting $1 million over two years thanks to a U.S. Department of Justice grant.

Alaska has a recidivism rate of 66.41%, meaning two-thirds of people released end up back in custody within three years. The hope is to lower the re-offense rate using evidence-based practices.

The Second Chance Grant will be used for training, case planning tools, peer support (both in and out of DOC institutions,) and for modifications to the current state Correctional Offender Management System.

“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 been planning a strategic reentry plan for since 2017. It used a 2017 $100,000 grant to give agencies time to decide how they would implement to $1 million grant. Alaska submitted their plan this year and was chosen as one of three grant winners along with Delaware and Utah.

“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 re[-]entrants to community resources capable of assisting in that often challenging transition.”