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Alaska Overcrowding Fines Increase

In the November 1995, issue of PLN we reported on prison overcrowding in Alaska. In 1981 Alaska prisoners filed a class action suit challenging overcrowding and conditions in the prison system. The prisoners won most of the suit, the key aspect was a court ordered maximum population of 2,665 prisoners. As of October 6, 1995, the AK DOC held 2,739 prisoners despite having shipped several hundred prisoners to private prisons in Arizona. Since September, l994, the DOC has amassed more than $650,000 in court fines for surpassing the population limit. Corrections Commissioner Margaret Pugh said she would ask the Alaska legislature to appropriate the funds in January to pay off the fines.

The state is fined $300 for each day that the state's fifteen prisons are over capacity. If the total prison population statewide exceeds capacity there is an additional $300 daily fine. The legislature will examine alternatives such as building more prisons and shifting the burden of misdemeanor prisoners to local governments. Crime prevention has been rejected as House Judiciary Committee chairman Brian Porter says he is not convinced that prevention works to keep people out of prison as well as harsh sentences and prison penalties. At PLN we ask if prisons work so well to deter crime then why are they filled?

Source: Corrections Digest

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