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Difference Between Alaska Prison and Federal Prison

What is the Difference Between Federal Prison and Alaska State Prison?

Federal and state prisons are primarily distinguished by their methods of operation and the criminals that they house. Individuals found guilty of federal crimes are tried and sentenced to one of the over 200 Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) operated throughout the United States by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. On the other hand, criminals charged with Alaska state crimes are incarcerated in state facilities which are run by the Alaska Department of Corrections.

In federal prison, inmates typically have access to several different types of programs and facilities. This can include a Federal Prison Camp, which is a minimum security facility where inmates may be able to perform manual labor, such as helping maintain the grounds or cooking for other inmates. There are also medium and high security facilities where inmates have access to vocational, educational and counseling programs. There are also federal penitentiaries that house the most violent offenders in the federal system, typically those convicted on drug charges. Inmates in these penitentiaries sometimes have fewer privileges but more access to mental health services and work opportunities.

In Alaska, state prisons sometimes offer boot camps as a form of alternative sentencing. Inmates at these facilities must adhere to strict rules and complete several physical challenges. Upon completion, the inmates' sentences are reduced, sometimes by as much as one-third.

Individuals sentenced to state prison must complete a parole board hearing before being released from custody. On the other hand, offenders who violate parole and are sentenced to federal prison must submit an application for a writ of habeas corpus to be released from custody.

The Alaska Prison System

Alaska's state prison system is modelled after the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with three levels of security designations. The main prison for this system, Spring Creek Correctional Center (SCCC), houses all three security designation levels.

Higher level prisoners are held at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center (HMCC) near Eagle River, and Goose Creek Correctional Center (GCCC) near Seward.

The Alaska prison system houses almost 2000 prisoners.

The mean age for incoming prisoners is 36.3 years old. 75% of the prison population is unmarried. Around 90% of the male inmates are Caucasian; 7% are Native American; 2% are mixed race; and < 1% are Hispanic or Asian. The female inmates consist of 50% Caucasians; 37% Native American; 7% mixed race; and 6% are Hispanic or Asian.

Criminal history is almost evenly divided among the inmates, with 52% having less than 5 criminal history points, 23% having more than 15 points, with 25% of them being designated as predatory offenders. Around 55 percent of the prison population has never been convicted of a sex offense.

Around 86% are incarcerated for violent crimes, with > 50% being associated to domestic violence. Only 4% of the population is incarcerated for sexual offenses. The rest are imprisoned for robbery, burglary, drug related crimes, or other non-violent offenses.

There are around 71% who have a high school education or equivalent. Around 5% have a college degree, and about 4% have a post-secondary degree. The number of inmates with a GED is unknown.

Around 30% of the population tests as having some sort of learning disability, either from mental retardation or other cognitive deficits.

The prison system's mission is to prepare inmates for their return to the communities in order reduce offenders' chances of committing another crime. Inmates are required to learn basic life skills, such as cooking and cleaning, which can help them upon release from prison. Inmates also take classes that may lead to a high school equivalency degree or a postsecondary degree, if they do not already have one.

How to Find an Inmate in Alaska

The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) is the agency responsible for handling incarceration and parole-related issues in the State of Alaska. The DOC maintains an online inmate locator service where interested persons can search for inmates by name, age, city, or partial information. The DOC also allows requestors to search for anyone who has ever been incarcerated in the state of Alaska regardless of when they were released.

The DOC website features contact information should you want to send mail, along with links to federal prisons and other helpful resources. There's also an online form for inquiring about visitation policies at the prisons located in Alaska.

Alaska prison facilities include:

Anchorage Correctional Complex
1400 East 4th Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

Anvil Mountain Correctional Center
1810 Center Creek Rd.
Nome, Alaska 99762

Fairbanks Correctional Center
1931 Egan Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701

Goose Creek Correctional Center
22301 West Alsop Road
Wasilla, Alaska 99654

Hiland Mountain Correctional Center
9101 Hesterberg Road
Eagle River, Alaska 99577

Ketchikan Correctional Center
1201 Schoenbar Rd
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901-6270

Lemon Creek Correctional Center
2000 Lemon Creek Road
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Mat-Su Pretrial
339 East Dogwood Road
Palmer, Alaska 99645

Palmer Correctional Center
Mile 58 of the Glenn Highway
Palmer, Alaska 99645

Pt. MacKenzie Correctional Farm
Guernsey Rd
Point MacKenzie, AK 99687?

Spring Creek Correctional Center
3600 Bette Cato Avenue
Seward, Alaska 99664

Interested members of the public may request Alaska inmate records from any of the facilities above. The requesting party will be required to provide information required to facilitate the record search, as well as payment to cover the cost of duplication.

Alaska County Jails

County jails are established to hold inmates for short periods of time that are awaiting trial, convicted offenders serving their sentences or people arrested but not yet charged with any crime.

However, the Alaska Department of Corrections does not operate local jails. Instead, the state operates a "unified" corrections system. In this system, Alaskan facilities hold people in both pretrial and sentenced status. These facilities also house people transferred from state prisons who are temporarily in transit back to their home communities.

How Does the Federal Prison System Work?

The federal prison system is a system set up to incarcerate individuals who have committed federal crimes. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the organization which houses and controls the prison system: it provides prisoners with health care and employment, and also restricts their freedoms through several security measures.