The Alaska Department of Corrections is beginning a process to house prisoners outside of Alaska, DOC Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom said in a press conference Tuesday.
The state’s prisons are currently at 97 percent capacity, Dahlstrom said, and if current trends continue the state will reach capacity in the coming months.
“We’re confident this is the best way to address our increases,” Dahlstrom said. ‘We are not closing any facilities or issuing any layoffs.”
Dahlstrom said that the “crime bill” House Bill 49, which made sentences harsher, raised the prison population since it’s implementation earlier this year. In a press release, DOC said that since July 2019 the state’s inmate population had grown by 250, or five percent.
DOC will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) later this week to solicit bids for housing inmates out of state. The initial proposal is set for a 3-year contract with the possibility to extend, according to the press release.
Dahlstrom said that the RFP will require that out of state facilities provide a comparable level of services as Alaska prisons, including rehabilitation and “evidenced-based programming.”
According to the Department of Justice, prison programming, “encompasses a broad array of services and interventions, including substance abuse treatment, educational programming, and sex offender treatment.”
Dahlstrom said it was not yet known what kinds of facilities will house Alaska’s inmates, but said that private prisons would be considered.
Only sentenced inmates with a minimum of seven years left on their sentence will be sent out of state, Dahlstrom said. As for the cost, “I can’t speak to the exact cost now but traditionally it has cost less to send them out of state,” she said.
Dahlstrom said that further details would be contained in the RFP.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.