CORRRECTIONS IS HAVING TROUBLE AT THE TOP
Without revealing why, the Walker Administration fired two senior executives from the Department of Corrections this month.
One is now-former Director of Institutions Bruce Busby. He was the top dog of the prison system.
The other is now-former Deputy Director Caitlin Price, who was Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams’ go-to person to get things done.
Both were dismissed simultaneously. No one will go on record as to why, but the word among Corrections officers is that there was an inappropriate relationship.
There were trips paid by the State to attend and perform official duties … some of which went unperformed … while certain other duties were performed. At the State’s expense.
There are photos, the folks in Corrections say. There are receipts for hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.
Why is this a scandal? Sworn officers, like police and corrections officers, have control over the lives of prisoners. The prison system puts guards and managers in positions of complete power and control over others, making it easily abused. So, the public wants them beyond reproach.
And there’s something else: Gov. Walker said he cleaned up Corrections in 2015. But after promoting Ron Taylor to commissioner upon taking office, the governor abruptly fired him a few months later, saying that the department was “broken” and “in turmoil.”
Why did Walker fire Taylor? His firing was based on a report written for him by the former director of the McLaughlin Youth Center, Dean Williams. Williams was in Walker’s close circle of advisers.
“I think the department has a hard time investigating itself like many agencies do, so out of our report we’re recommending a separate arm with existing resources,” Walker said in the terse press conference in November of 2015, when he announced that he had fired Taylor and put Walt Monegan in charge of Corrections, temporarily. (Monegan later became Public Safety commissioner.)
“We look at a process or model where we can investigate ourselves with high credibility and high trust. Right now we have a broken system,” Walker said.
The report by Williams called for a third-party investigation of administrative and criminal issues. Williams was a special assistant to the governor when he authored the report. He was just the guy to fix it.
Soon, Williams himself was commissioner.
A year later, Williams started a new internal affairs unit to transform the department to be more accountable. He asked a group to go through his report and help him restructure the department.
But people up and down the chain of command in Corrections had already found deep problems with the report. Some Corrections employees had lost their jobs, perhaps unfairly, due to the allegations by Williams.
The union, ACOA, started raising questions about the process used to generate the report that ultimately had gotten Williams his plum job. Pretty soon, there were too many questions and things got rather uncomfortable for Williams. The turmoil started to erode his credibility.
This is where it gets murky. Parts of this story cannot be written because sources would be revealed. Suffice it to say, what we can report so far appears to be only the tip of the iceberg.
“People felt like he got the job because he wrote the report in his favor, but there are a lot of disputable items in this report,” said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There were some really questionable investigative techniques.”
Must Read Alaska learned from people within the Department of Corrections that the firing of two top officers in the Corrections Department for having an inappropriate relationship was needed, but it left untouched others who are engaged in similar behaviors that compromise the integrity of the department.
“It’s common knowledge among personnel that there are people at the top engaging in this behavior,” the source said, behavior that appears to involve misuse of state funds for inappropriate purposes.
In other words, not much has changed at the Department of Corruptions. Things may have gotten even worse.
(Do you have a tip about the Department of Corrections scandal? Must Read Alaska will protect you as a source. [email protected])
Alaska prison system corruption that never really made the radar – was the MSB-driven scam to build the Goose Creek prison at Pt. Mac., where the daily cost of incarceration is much higher than outsourcing prisoners to the L48. With the state’s massive deficiet, Goose Creek should be mothballed if it is not cheaper than sending prisoners to the L48.
Here’s another big question. Where is the money? Money given to DOC for prison rehab of which, according to Sen. Wilson of the valley, is nonexistent.
This is just another example of Gov. Walker putting his friends in postitions of authority. He has done this from the beginning and is still appointing his friends to high paying roles within the government yet claiming he’s fixing it he budget. Get him and his appointees out of office as soon as possible. And he thinks he’s gonna get re-elected. So many issues within the DOC and gone unattended for many years. Just more wasted time. Dean Williams failed at the youth center and failed in Corrections.
Why hasn’t someone checked into the cost that is being spent on Palmer Correctional Center every month to keep heat, Electricity and security, not to mention maintenance of the facility that is supposedly shut down.
Perhaps the state legislature should look at Goose Creek (MatSu) as a central location for state government instead of Juneau. It’s on the road system) and within services such as hotels, restaurants, etc.)
Another option – a community center for homeless folks. Heated environment that offers housing, healthcare, mental health care, food services, etc.
If we tax payers are already paying for it, would be good to put it to some sort of use.
Williams is the worst kind of Machiavellian actor during his time within Department of Juvenile Justice, and I assume, DOC. At DJJ he is famous for implementing policies with “feel good” titles that actually make the staff and residents feel even more unsafe. When the data comes out about how unsafe people are, he and his successors change the way they report the data and stop publishing the data to the line staff.
Alaska will always have these problems until they actually become professional. In most states the Governor appoints every position from Chief Deputy Warden, which would be Asst. Superintendent, on up, just like Alaska does. However, they must be ratified by the State Assembly. This is to stop exactly what every
Alaska Governor in the last 16 years that I know has done, pay off campaign favors, and hire incompetent friends to positions where a mistake can mean someone’s life.
Actually, every job below the director of institutions is a merit system job recruited and hired/promoted under the State Personnel Act. The only jobs that are political appointees are the directors and the only one requiring Legislative confirmation is the Commissioner.
That said, nobody is likely to get promoted to a position above Shift Sergeant if the Commissioner or the Governor has a problem with that person. You can pass any law you want, but you’re not going to change that; people hire people that they like to work with, or think they’ll like to work with.
Yeah, there is an “old boy” system and who you know or blow matters, but making it even more political by requiring confirmation just exacerbates the problem.
If you want to fix AK DOC, you will need to start from the top to the bottom in supervision:
When a officer goes to promote for any position , they need to test state-wide for that position.
A panel of staff, in a true oral board- Scored and ranked
A test of their knowledge of Alaska statutes, and P&P. Scored and ranked.
Experience should be a factor. Scored and ranked.
Disciplinary issues should be a factor. Scored and ranked.
Make the scoring process with rankings open and transparent.
Currently, it a panel, and the officer most liked is the one who is most likely hired. Everyone knows, you can fudge behavioral question scoring.
As far as the “old boy” system, it is in place and running strong. What you should also look at in DOC is the number of complaints on harassment & hostile work environment complaints made by staff about the supervision and then watch the revolving door of the same people in charge being moved from institution to institution or position to position
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