Alaska Correctional Populations 2011

Alaska Correctional Populations 2011

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Fall 2012-Winter 2013). "Alaska Correctional Populations 2011." Alaska Justice Forum 29(3-4): 2-4. This article provides a description of Alaska correctional populations in 2011 based upon the Alaska Department of Corrections 2011 offender profile. At the end of 2011, there was a total of 5,727 offenders in prisons, jails, community residential centers, treatment centers, or offsite monitoring programs, and an additonal 5,951 offenders on probation or parole.

Alaska's offender population continues to show a steady rise: from 2010 to 2011 there was about a one percent increase in the total correctional population while the numbwer of prisoners institutionalized out-of-state was up by eight percent. At year-end 2011, there were a total of 5,727 offenders under the supervision of the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC "2011 Offender Profile" reports 4,734 institutionalized offenders: 3,663 in Alaska facilities and 1,071 in out-of-state facilities. There were an additional 993 offenders in community residential centers (CRCs), treatment centers or offsite monitoring programs. (See Tables 1 and 2.) According to DOC, Alaska's overall prison population growth has been about 3 percent per year. At the current rate, in 2020 Alaska's prison population will reach 6,313.

Table 1. Prisoners under the Jurisdiction of the Alaska Department of Corrections, 1998-2011
Table 2. Offenders in Institutions under the Jurisdiction of the Alaska Department of Corrections, 2011

Of the 4,734 offenders in correctional institutions, 89 percent were male, and felony offenders accounted for 78 percent of the population. Forty-seven percent of the offender population in institutions was Caucasian; Alaska Natives accounted for 36 percent, Blacks 11 percent, Hispanics 3 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders just over 3 percent. About 20 percent of offenders were in the age range of 25-29 years of age. (See Table 3.) Over 50 percent of offenders were incarcerated for 6 months or less. Just over 18 percent were incarcerated for 37 months or more.

Members of two minority groups, Alaska Natives and Blacks, are incarcerated at levels very disproportionate to their percentages in the general population. Alaska Natives comprise about 15 percent and Blacks 3 percent of the state's population (according to the 2010 U.S. Census). However, 36 percent of the offender population in 2011 was Alaska Native, and 11 percent was Black. Although the incarceration rate for Alaska Natives is disproportionally high, in 2011-for the first time in 3 years-the number of Alaska Natives in correctional institutions decreased slightly-by 1 percent.

Table 3. Prisoners under the Jurisdiction of the Alaska Department of Corrections, 2011: Demographic Characteristics

Other Offender Groups

The 993 offenders in community residential centers (CRCs), treatment centers, and offsite monitoring programs (electronic monitoring) were 82 percent male, and the average age was just over 36 years. Alaska Natives made up 31 percent of this population and Blacks 8 percent; Hispanics accounted for 2 percent of this group, and Asian/Pacific Island offenders 3 percent.

Young offenders (persons less than 20 years old) totaled 102 persons-78 in correctional institutions, 19 in CRCs, and 5 in electronic monitoring programs. All but three of the offenders in custody were in Alaska. In terms of minorities, Alaska Natives accounted for about 42 percent of this population, Blacks about 11 percent, Asian/Pacific Islanders 9 percent, and Hispanics/Latinos almost 1 percent.

Sex offenders under DOC's supervision totaled 663 at the end of 2011. Nearly all the offenders (98%) were male, and the average age was just over 36 years. Of this population, 41 percent was Caucasian, 46 percent was Alaska Native, 7 percent was Black, over 2 percent was Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islanders numbered about 3 percent.

The Department of Corrections also has supervising authority over an additional 5,951 probationers and parolees. Seventy-nine percent of this population was male. Of the total population of probationers and parolees, 25 percent were Alaska Native, about 9 percent were Black, about 3 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 5 percent were Asian/Pacific Island. Twenty percent of parolees/probationers are between the ages of 25 and 29 years. (See Table 4.)

According to the DOC Division of Probation & Parole, among the probationers/parolees population there are a number of additional offenders labeled "absconders" who do not appear in the official statistics. These are individuals on probation or parole who have fled the state or are unable to be located by law enforcement. However, these offenders are still in the system database. On December 31, 2011, there were 861 absconders.

Table 4. Probationers/Parolees Under Supervision of the Alaska Department of Corrections, 2011

Offenders by Class of Offense

In 2011, the majority of incarcerated individuals under DOC supervision were sentenced for nonviolent offenses. This number has been steadily rising-going from 54 percent in 2007 to nearly 60 percent in 2011. Over 25 percent of offenders in DOC institutions in 2011 were sentenced for offenses against a person, followed by probation/parole offenses (17%), sex offenses (14%), and property offenses (14%). Offenders in custody for alcohol offenses numbered 8 percent of the correctional population; drug offenders represented about 8 percent. In contrast, in 2002, 38 percent of offenders were convicted of a crime against a person, and 6 percent were sentenced for a probation/parole offense. (See Table 5.)

Table 5. Offenders in Alaska Department of Corrections Institutions by Offense Class, 2002 and 2011

Out-of-State Offenders

The number of offenders in detention out-of-state continued to rise in 2011-nearly an eight percent increase over the 2010 figures (991 in 2010 to 1,071 in 2011). The out-of-state offender population increased over 23 percent from 2007 to 2011. (Note: The Goose Creek Correctional Center located in Wasilla is in the process of becoming completely operational. The facility can house 1,536 offenders and is due to be fully up and running in spring 2013. There is currently a daily average of 430 sentenced and unsentenced offenders in Goose Creek Correctional Center.)

Offender Groups of Particular Interest

The report provides additional data on offender groups of particular interest including Alaska Natives, juveniles, seniors, sex offenders, substance abuse offenders, and long-term offenders. It also includes a section on emerging trends in the Alaska correctional population. (See below.)

 

A copy of the full report is available at http://www.correct.state.ak.us/admin/docs/2011Profile06.pdf.