FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Department of Corrections Commissioner, Dean Williams, and the public gathered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to watch the Finnish documentary 'Breaking the Cycle,' which compares a maximum security prison in Norway to facilities in the United States. After the screening, the commissioner had a discussion and answered questions from the public.
"This is the last stop on our tour, to really ask that question, can we learn from other systems to improve our results here in Alaska," said Williams.
With Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy's new administration, at-will state employees including Commissioner Williams received a notice to resign, and says that he hopes the efforts continue even if he is no longer commissioner.
"This effort really isn't about me, it's bigger than that, and it's about a better correctional system, better results, less re-offense rates, better working conditions for staff, I really have to underline that one, we have to have better conditions of correctional officers and staff," said Williams.
Williams was able to travel to Norway to learn about their prison system and has been working on implementing new policies into Alaska's facilities.
"We can have prisons that work, punishment that works, and getting results out of our prison system, and improving those, because we've had a long history of high offense rates, I firmly believe that we can do better," said Williams.
We will be following up with the new programs and principles Alaska has already started implementing across the state, including the Fairbanks Correctional Center.