WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - The Department of Corrections canceled an annual Father's Day event at Goose Creek Correctional Center after alleged inmate misconduct at a previous event. The cancellation comes just days before the event was scheduled.
A Department of Corrections spokesperson told Channel 2 that the decision to cancel the event came after misconduct by inmates and guests involving contraband at a cultural event last Friday.
For families of inmates, the Father's Day event would have been a rare opportunity to spend more time with their loved ones and to engage in activities other than talking from opposite sides of a table.
"It's completely different to be outside. It's completely different to be in the sunshine, where you can see trees, you can see grass, you can sit and have a meal together. You can actually be a family, and you can't do that in a normal day-to-day visitation room," said Christiane Allison, whose husband is serving a 40-year sentence with 10 years suspended at Goose Creek.
Previously, inmates must have gone 90 days without a disciplinary infraction, have no sex offender charges and not be serving a sentence barring contact with children in order to participate in the event. According to a DOC spokesperson, 81 inmates and 249 guests had been cleared for the event scheduled for Friday.
Allison says she understands the need to keep security at the prison a priority, but she feels the measures put in place in recent months in the name of security are only restricting access to inmates.
As an example, Allison points to an updated policy for mail approved by previous DOC Commissioner Dean Williams that went into effect last December. The updated policy drags out for 13 pages.
"I think that the current actions that are being taken don't reflect the fact that the mission of the Department of Corrections according to their website, according to all state information, includes the successful reintegration of inmates back into their communities and back into their families," Allison said. "Humans are social creatures. We are designed to function in families. We are designed to function in community. The more you restrict someone from that, the more you're going to deteriorate them. You're not helping them. And that goes for both the families on the outside and the inmates that are on the inside. There's tons of research to prove that the more separation that is forced into that, the worse off people do."
She says the culture for visitation at the prison improved after an ombudsman investigation into other DOC facilities that alleged multiple cases of mistreatment of inmates, but now she feels the culture is regressing.
"It was much, much healthier and just better for everybody that was interacting with the facility. What concerns me is that the administration of DOC has changed again. I have seen that start deteriorating," Allison said. "There have been more and more shifts in cutting off access to inmates for the sake of security."
A DOC spokesperson says that regular visitation hours at Goose Creek haven't been changed at this time.
Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved.