Department of Corrections releases new information policy

Hiland Mountain Correctional Center (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Corrections)

Amanda Kernak died at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in April. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Corrections)

The Alaska Department of Corrections announced last week that it has developed a new policy on how prisoner deaths are handled.

A state legislative hearing was held in July to address five inmate deaths at state correctional institutions between April and June.

The summary of the new policy that’s posted on the DOC’s website promises greater transparency than the previous version.

Sherrie Daigle is deputy commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

“And what it does, it lays out the steps the department takes and what our department employees, the steps that they take in the event of an inmate death. It explains how we will notify the next of kin. It explains what type of information cam be released to the public. It states that information that is confidential and is protected under law cannot be released. It talks about what kind of information can be released to the media and at what point. And so it is just a step by step process of how we will handle those incidents.”

Under the new policy, the department will notify next of kin and promptly provide the public with information about the death that is not confidential. Daigle says that, in the event of a death caused by a criminal act by an inmate, the incident first goes to the Alaska State Troopers for investigation.

“Then they come in and investigate any type of criminal act that may have occurred within a facility statewide.”

The statement by the DOC also says the department will determine if there are any deficiencies in the DOC system.

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