DOC Policy Issues
In addition to concerns over conduct in DOC facilities, a substantial number of DOC core policies currently stand in direct contradiction to its own vision and mission statements. The Alaska DOC Mission and Vision Statement states,
“The Alaska Department of Corrections provides secure confinement, reformative programs, and a process of supervised community reintegration to enhance the safety of our communities.
We are trained professionals committed to a safe, open and respectful organization. We are dedicated to public safety and will always respect the rights and dignity of victims of crime. Offenders in our charge will be treated in a safe and humane manner, and will be expected to enhance their ability to reform every day.”
Taking a closer look at DOC policies, however, we can see direct contradiction to this mission. DOC proclaims a goal of community reintegration, however, policies for their time served cause to cut them off from supportive family and community members. As a few brief examples:
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-V-A defines “Immediate Family Member” as: “Mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, wife or husband”. When applied, this definition specifically excludes: father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and grandparents.
- In the Allison case, there are 13 family members who wish to regularly visit Clayton, and 9 (69%) of them are excluded by the current definition.
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-C-2 states that prisoners may have a maximum of 10 approved visitors (applied as including immediate family).
- In the Allison case, dozens of friends and community members stand in support of him, and belief in his innocence, and are being specifically cut off from support by this arbitrary number.
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-C-3 states that an inmate may request addition or deletion to their approved visitation list on a schedule determined by facility SOP
- In practice at Goose Creek Correctional Center, this opportunity is limited to 1 time per year and deletions are removed immediately, despite the individuals being added in their place taking 7-90 days to process for addition; leaving an inmate with a severely reduced list for a potentially extended period of time.
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-C-4 states that an individual may only be approved for one prisoner’s visitation list. With the exclusion of in-laws from the “immediate family” definition, this policy has the potential to restrict family access dramatically in highly-connected and rural communities.
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-D-2 states that "The Department shall allow contact visitation in a room that allows informal communication and physical contact" and goes on to explain that inmates are only to be denied this in cases of punitive segregation or as determined by the facility Superintendent on an individualized basis.
- In practice at Goose Creek Correctional Center, the administrative segregation unit (Ad Seg) and Special Management Unit (SMU) are denied contact visitation as a matter of policy permenantly. Many individuals now housed in these units are being held there for protective custody, and not as a punitive measure.
- Alaska prisons do not allow for conjugal visits; increasing the risk of sexual offenses occurring in prisons, and diminishing relationships of married inmates - if not directly leading to divorce
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-D-2-v-a states that “The prisoner and visitor may embrace for a short time only at the beginning and end of the visitation period. It is not permitted to kiss.” - This is an extreme stance in a facility like GCCC which posesses body-scanning technology that can be utilized if concerns over contraband arise.
- SOA DOC Index #810.02-VII-D-2-v-b states that “Amorous fondling or caressing or other sexual activities are prohibited.”
- Individuals on the list of victims in an inmate’s case are automatically excluded from the right to visitation at GCCC even if wanting to see the inmate.
- Individuals are not permitted to determine whether they are listed as a victim in a case, and can be arbitrarily added by PO’s without proper authorization. It has become a matter of preemptive policy, regardless of situations where there is no official court order of any kind prohibiting contact.
- Families of inmates have expressed severe concerns about the recent announcement that inmates will soon be charged $1 per local phone call
- In reality, all calls are limited to 15 minutes in duration, so a 1-hour local phone conversation will result as a $4 cost to inmates or their families. Many inmates make $.50 per hour, requiring 2-hours of work for a single local 15-minute phone call.
- Inmates who are not considered indigent, but who do not have family financial support, will be the most severely affected; losing primary connection with friends and loved ones.
The items outlined above are only a few brief examples of policy that is harmful to inmate connections with family and their communities. In most cases, these inmates will be returning to our communities, and whether their transition is a success or failure affects every Alaskan.
GET THE FACTS. STAND UP. SPEAK.