Alaskan officials seek to reduce prison population over next decade

The current rate of prison growth will surpass the state’s capacity to house inmates by 2017


By C1 Staff

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — State lawmakers are asking the Alaska Department of Corrections to reduce the prison population by 15 to 25 percent over the next 10 years.

KTUU reports that the request comes after research by Pew Charitable Trusts found that more than 25 percent of those incarcerated in Alaskan prisons haven’t been convicted of crimes yet and that the current rate of prison growth will surpass the state’s capacity to house inmates by 2017.

The current plan is to either put inmates in halfway houses or to use an ankle monitoring system, according to the DOC.

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Officials estimate that about 1,200 prisoners are eligible for electronic monitoring and another 500 could be placed in halfway houses.

“This is not where we’re trying to let people out of jail for free, absolutely not,” Commissioner Ron Taylor with the DOC said. “This is not what we’re trying to say, ‘due to budget cuts everybody gets a free pass,’ in terms of being released, what it is about is looking inside of our system and determining who really needs to be in a hard-bed space versus can we safely manage that person in the community.”

A public comment period will be heard on Oct. 20.

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