Despite its small population, Alaska has a robust prison system that manages convicted criminals. The state operates several correctional centers, including maximum security institutions, designed to hold the most dangerous offenders. These facilities have strict security measures, such as tall walls and multiple guard towers, to ensure the safety of inmates and staff.
The Alaska Department of Corrections manages the state's prison system, including pre-trial detention and long-term incarceration for sentenced criminals. The department was created in the early 1980s, before which the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services managed corrections. In addition, the department operates juvenile correctional facilities through its Division of Juvenile Justice.
Here's a list of some of the maximum security prisons in the state of Alaska:
- Spring Creek Correctional Center
- Hiland Mountain Correctional Center
- Goose Creek Correctional Center
- Wildwood Correctional Complex
- Lemon Creek Correctional Center
- Palmer Correctional Center
- Fairbanks Correctional Center
Various Prison Level In The State Of Alaska
Spring Creek Correctional Center
The Spring Creek Correctional Center is a maximum security prison for men operated by the Alaska Department of Corrections. Situated in the town of Seward, approximately 125 miles south of Anchorage, the prison is on 328 acres of land surrounded by national parks. The facility can house over 500 inmates and is staffed by 97 correctional officers. Constructed as a decentralized campus, the prison was completed in 1988 at $44,678,000.
A significant portion of the inmates at Spring Creek are "hard-core" felons who have committed violent crimes, such as murder. The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) states that these prisoners "will probably spend the rest of their life in prison." However, the prison also houses inmates who have committed less serious crimes, such as assault and burglary, with sentences ranging from three to ten years.
Spring Creek has, unfortunately, seen its fair share of violence. In 2004, an inmate already serving time for another murder killed his cellmate, and in 2008, another inmate was beaten to death. There have also been several escape attempts, including a successful one in 1994 and an unsuccessful plot in 2001. In July 2015, a troubled woman from the North Pole approached the prison gates with a gun and demanded the release of "murderers." When her demands were not met, she shot herself in the head and died from her injuries.
Hiland Mountain Correctional Center
Hiland Mountain Correctional Center is a prison exclusively for female inmates in Eagle River, Alaska. The facility is divided into five separate housing units, spanning eleven buildings with a total capacity of 415 inmates. It houses female prisoners of all security levels and sentences, including those who have committed felonies and misdemeanors and those with short and long-term penalties.
The prison opened in 1974 and is situated on 62 acres across from Eagle River. It was initially designed as a medium-security facility for men but later transitioned into a prison for both men and women. As the number of female inmates increased, it eventually became a female-only prison. Based on its security and rehabilitation facilities, the prison is considered level 2 in terms of harshness.
Inmates at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center are housed in dormitories and can access room keys. The facility provides various educational opportunities, drug and alcohol treatment programs, and community outreach. For example, inmates can volunteer at local animal shelters or participate in Habitat for Humanity projects.
Goose Creek Correctional Center
Goose Creek Correctional Center is a medium-security level 2 prison for men that the Alaska Department of Corrections operates. The prison is located in Point MacKenzie, Alaska, in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and can be found at the corner of Port Access Road and Alsop Road. The facility was built at $240 million and spanned 435,000 square feet.
Construction of the facility began in July 2009, and it accepted its first inmates in July 2012. The state planned to house all 1,050 state prisoners previously held in private prisons in Colorado and Arizona by September 2013. However, the cost of the facility has been a source of controversy.
Goose Creek Correctional Center is designed to hold inmates with medium-security levels, meaning that they pose a moderate risk to society. The facility offers various programs and services to help inmates prepare for reintegration into society. Examples include education, vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services. These programs aim to reduce recidivism and help inmates become productive members of society upon release.
Wildwood Correctional Complex
The Wildwood Correctional Complex, run by the Alaska Department of Corrections, is located three miles north of Kenai, Alaska. It is considered a level 3 prison and consists of two facilities - the Wildwood Correctional Center, a 255-bed medium-security long-term facility for sentenced adult male felons and misdemeanors, and the Wildwood Pre-Trial Facility, a 113-bed facility for adult felons and misdemeanors of all security levels. The total capacity of the complex is approximately 360 inmates.
The complex has a unique history. It was initially constructed by the U.S. Army in 1951 as a military communications base and was known as Wildwood Army Station. In 1965, it was transferred to the U.S. Air Force and renamed Wildwood Air Force Station. After being considered as the site for a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, it was turned over to the Kenai Native Association in 1974 as part of the Alaska Native land claims settlement. In 1983, the State of Alaska leased a portion of the facility for use as a correctional and pre-trial facility, and the state finally purchased it in December 1992.
Lemon Creek Correctional Center
The Lemon Creek Correctional Center is a medium-security prison located in Juneau, Alaska, the Alaska Department of Corrections operates. The facility can hold around 400 inmates, both male and female. It is considered a level 3 prison in the state of Alaska.
Constructed in the early 1980s, the prison was initially intended to function as a reception and diagnostic center for newly admitted inmates. Over time, the prison has undergone renovations and expansions to accommodate the growing inmate population. Today, the facility provides a range of programs and services aimed at helping inmates reintegrate into society, such as education, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment.
Lemon Creek Correctional Center serves as a processing center for transferred or released inmates. This includes providing medical care, mental health evaluations, and other assessments before their transfer or release.
Palmer Correctional Center
Palmer Correctional Center is a prison in Alaska that has been operating since the 1960s. The facility has undergone multiple renovations and expansions to adapt to the changing needs of the prison system. It is classified as a level 2 prison in terms of harshness based on the programs and services offered to inmates. These include education, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment.
The prison also strongly emphasizes community outreach, with inmates participating in volunteer work and other community service projects. One of the standout programs at Palmer Correctional Center is the "Reentry Work Crew" program, which allows eligible inmates to leave the prison and work on community service projects or in jobs under the supervision of correctional staff. This program aims to help inmates develop job skills and positive work habits that will aid them in their reintegration into society after their release.
Fairbanks Correctional Center
The Fairbanks Correctional Center, situated in Fairbanks, Alaska, is a state-run correctional facility operated by the Alaska Department of Corrections. This facility serves as a medium-security level 3 prison, which houses male and female inmates serving time for their crimes. The prison has a capacity of around 300 inmates and provides various programs and services to help with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. These programs include education, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment.
Additionally, inmates have the opportunity to participate in community service projects and volunteer work as a means of giving back to the community while serving their sentence. Finally, the facility emphasizes the safety and security of inmates and staff, utilizing advanced security systems and technology to ensure the well-being of all within its walls.