Audit: Systemic problems in Alaska’s Corrections Department

  • By The Associated Press
  • Wednesday, December 24, 2014 9:54pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An audit of the Alaska Department of Corrections has identified systemic problems, including an inadequate mechanism for reviewing inmate deaths and factors that could affect the quality of health of those incarcerated.

The results of the $320,000, yearlong review comes at the end of a year in which the agency was under scrutiny over the way it handled a series of inmate deaths. It also comes after longtime corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt and institutions director, Bryan Brandenburg, were dismissed by the administration of new Gov. Bill Walker.

Corrections was the first department selected under a 2013 state law mandating a performance and budgetary audit of state departments at least once every decade, Alaska Dispatch News ( reported.

The Legislative and Budget Audit Committee extended the scope of the audit and paid an additional $23,000 for a deep look at the quality of inmate health care.

The report says Corrections is “moderately effective” in primary functions of confining inmates. It also praised the agency for re-entry programming and other opportunities to help inmates learn a trade, kick addictions and stay out of jail.

There are gaps, however, in the department’s health care policies, according to the report, compiled by CGL, a company based in Sacramento, California.

“We noted significant issues and omissions in these policies that do have an impact on the quality of health care provided,” wrote CGL senior vice president Karl Becker in the report.

According to the review, the department has poorly defined procedures for medical screenings during intake at the busiest jails. Several of the inmate deaths this year occurred hours after those prisoners were booked. The department also lacks a mechanism to review deaths with the intent of what might have gone wrong and how to fix it, according to the report.

The report calls for more defined policy in other areas, such as sick calls, and encouraged the agency to create a health care quality improvement plan.

Department officials said they recognize some health care policies are outdated.

“We are in the process of reviewing and evaluating those that can be updated, which may result in improvements in health care services,” Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said.

Among the findings, the review said that some security policies are outdated and that the department doesn’t track grievances from inmates or the public well enough.

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska House passes budget with roughly $2,275 payments to residents, bill goes to Senate

The bill also includes a roughly $175 million, one-time increase in aid to school districts that would be paid according to a funding formula

The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna riverfront redevelopment planning moves forward

Soldotna City Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Corey Cannon, who plays baseball as part of Soldotna Little League, speaks to the Soldotna City Council during their meeting in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Soldotna Little League receives donation for facility repairs

The city owns the fields, but the Little League leases the land and is responsible for the maintenance of the facilities

Aleutian Airways logo. Photo courtesy of Aleutian Airways
Aleutian airways to halt Homer service during runway project

Service will be suspended beginning April 15

Homer pedestrian pathway project selected for federal funding

The project will create greater nonmotorized transportation access in Homer

Vendors speak to attendees of the Kenai Peninsula Job and Career Fair in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Job Fair draws employers, seekers

The Job Center has options and opportunities to connect people with training, coaching and funding

Vanessa Uei checks in guests during a grand opening for AK Wellness & Tanning in Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
AK Wellness & Tanning holds grand opening for new location

The expanded location is along the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai

The Kenai Senior Center’s dining space is readied for the annual March for Meals fundraiser in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Photo by Ken Aaron, provided by Kenai Senior Center)
March for Meals raises funds to support senior food service

The local event was organized by Kenai Senior Connection and hosted at the Kenai Senior Center

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
An array of solar panels stand in the sunlight at Whistle Hill in Soldotna on Sunday.
Federal grant awarded for Whistle Hill solar project

The annual production of the completed system is estimated to be enough electricity to power 19 homes

Most Read