THESE ARE THE PRISONERS WHO COULD BE SHIPPED OUT OF STATE
Spring Creek Correctional Center is where the meanest and most violent prisoners typically go to live out the rest of their lives. It has over 400 inmates, many of them hard-core felons, doing time for rape and murder.
Last night’s 9-hour prison riot involved over 50 of those inmates, a reminder of just how dangerous they are, in spite of the “Restorative Justice Initiative” that has been part of the prison’s program over the past year, bringing things like yoga, a running club, and classes on morals and ethics to the prison population.
These are, in fact, some of the prisoners who would likely be shipped out of state to cheaper maximum security prisons in the Lower 48, as part of Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s cost-saving measures for his Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Since the lifers aren’t coming back into society, there’s no real reason to keep them in-state, when out-of-state is more cost effective.
Many of the rioters are members of gangs with names like 1488’s, Caucasian Kings, Family Over Everything, USOs and Native Brotherhood. But Corrections officials don’t characterize the Tuesday night riot as gang-related, nor have officials said whether the rioters were the lifers or the ones only serving three-to-10 years.
Riots in prisons are not uncommon. In January, 2018, some 43 inmates briefly rioted at Spring Creek, but the incident only lasted three minutes. That one was said to be gang related. Before that, a riot at the Fairbanks Correctional Center in August of 2017 involved 15 inmates, some broken windows and spilling of soap and water on the floors.
This week’s riot occurred in the Hotel Mod unit, and was started when prisoners barricaded themselves into a section of the prison as a protest against the 8 am wakeup call. What is unusual is the length of the riot and the numbers of inmates involved.
About $100,000 in damage was reported by officials, who say no prisoners or staff were harmed during the riot, but fire suppressant systems, cameras, plumbing, computer lines, and interior glass were all damaged.
To regain control, prison officials used non-lethal force, including restraints, less lethal munitions, as well as non-lethal chemical agents.
Sarah Gallagher, spokeswoman for the department, said prisoners involved in the incident are subject to the internal disciplinary process as well as criminal prosecution though the Alaska State Troopers.
“Those offenders involved have been placed in a more restrictive housing environment. No charges have been filed at this time as DOC is still conducting the investigation,” she said.
The prison is located approximately 125 miles south of Anchorage on 328 acres of land that is surrounded by national parks. It was built in 1988 at a cost of $44.7 million and houses hard-core felons, but also prisoners who have been convicted of assault or burglary and who are serving sentences between three and 10 years.