Known for its beautiful landscape, unforgiving weather conditions, and stunningly beautiful Aurora Borealis lights display, America’s last frontier continues to venture through paths unfrequented.
In December 2015, the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission released the Justice Reinvestment Report (“report”) highlighting problems and solutions for its criminal justice system. The Commission, established in 2014 under Senate Bill 64, is comprised of 13 stakeholders with the purpose of conducting a comprehensive review of Alaska’s corrections and criminal justice systems. Commission Chair Greg Razo asked that the 21 evidence-based recommendations within the report be seen “as a package rather than as a menu to choose from.”
According to the report, Alaska’s prison population has grown by 27 percent, which is “almost three times faster than the resident population.” As of July 2014, inmates housed within Alaska’s correctional facilities numbered at 5,267, with the Department of Corrections’ fiscal year operating budget totaling at $327 million.
The report also noted that these numbers will continue to increase in the coming years. If reform is not implemented, Alaska will accumulate an additional 1,416 inmates by 2024. At this rate, Alaska will surpass its current bed capacity by 2017. Financially, this growth will translate into another $169 million in spending over the next decade. To add to the dilemma, two-thirds of inmates released from Alaskan correctional facilities return within a three-year timeline – a notably high recidivism rate.
Overall, the report’s 21 recommendations aim to reduce the average daily population by 21 percent by 2024 and save an…