An Anchorage Democrat said he will sponsor legislation that would prevent the Department of Corrections from shipping prisoners to out-of-state facilities.

Two other Anchorage Democrats and one Independent have also signed onto House Rep. Zack Fields’ idea.

“I think there is overwhelming support in the Legislature for housing inmates in-state where they can have quality rehabilitative programs,” Fields said in an interview. “Which is why the Legislature allocated funding to reopen Palmer Correctional Center and expressed strong legislative intent not to ship prisoners outside where they will bring back these dangerous gangs when they return.”

The proposal comes just over a month after the Department of Corrections announced plans to ship hundreds of inmates out of state.

Lawmakers typically begin filing bills a few weeks in advance of the upcoming legislative session, which, in this case, begins Jan. 21.

Since Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration announced the Department of Corrections is moving forward with its inmates plan, the move has received sharp public criticism.  

Department of Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom said last month the move to transfer inmates to out of state facilities is designed to increase safety within Alaska's prisons; she anticipates it will also lower costs. The DOC is not closing any facilities or issuing any layoffs.

The request for proposal is set for a three-year contract with the possibility of an extension and would cover up to 750 prisoners.

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