Sharp rise in female and pre-trial detentions

The number of Alaskans behind bars continues to consistently expand. But that growth isn’t across the board.

According to a new Fact Sheet from the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, data from 2005-2014 show the overall number of Alaskans in Department of Corrections facilities has grown by 20.1 percent.

But the biggest increases are among women: up 55 percent from 2005.

Nation-wide, the number of women in detention is rising, with no consensus among criminologists about what’s driving the trend.

In Alaska, there’s also a huge jump in what’s called the “pretrial” population. That includes people awaiting trial, arrested for minor violations, or lacking the means to meet bail requirements. But it’s a distinct group from those who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced. The number of pre-trial Alaskans in DOC facilities has risen by 91.6% almost double what it was a decade ago.

Alaska is one of the few states in the country with one department managing both pretrial and post-conviction inmates, giving the DOC oversight over a complex population ranging from repeat violent offenders to parking-ticket violators.

Correction: This article has been corrected to more accurately reflect changes in the rate of growth versus overall growth, as well as removed the mistaken claim that 9.3 percent of Alaskans have spent time in a DOC facility.