DOC group aims to reduce recidivism for Alaska Natives

The Department of Corrections is convening an Alaska Native Focus Group to develop solutions for reducing recidivism for Alaska Natives. Alaska’s recidivism rate is 63 percent for everyone leaving the prison system. For Alaska Natives, it’s 74 percent.

“We’re concerned about the higher rates of recidivism among that group and looking for ways to improve those outcomes,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Ron Taylor. “How do we do a better job of providing programming and resources? Of linking them to services once they get released? And how do we do a better job of insuring they go back to their communities if they chose to do so.”

Taylor said his department isn’t sure why recidivism rates are so much higher for Alaska Natives. It could be because of cultural and language barriers within the correctional system. The group will try to identify the causes and the solutions. It will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott and meet for the first time next week in Anchorage.

Taylor discussed the group during a session on Alaska Native Justice during AFN. Other plans to reduce the number of Alaska Natives in the prison system include a new joint tribal and state wellness court in Kenai and other methods to get tribal courts more involved with the sentencing process in the state’s justice system.