I've been involved in justice since we finished law school together and that was back in--for me, it was in I guess the other thing, the other partnership I wanted to highlight was a partnership that the idea has just come forward here in Anchorage and it's just this summer and it's through Alaska Legal Services Corporation where I've worked for many years on their board.
It is important that, as we work towards solutions, it is not just the State of Alaska and the legislature, it's not just the Alaska Native Justice Commission that is doing it, it commjnity not just the feds, it is everyone working together and so we need to ensure that just that is happening. Well, it takes a comprehensive examination of your criminal justice system and we're presented with the shocking data that you read.
Since October of last year, the Commission has inundated each commissioner with information facts and figures to enable us to do our important work. Those are really difficult questions. I urge you to try to keep within about five minutes or so, but we're not going to be cutting you off, this is important testimony to be delivered for the record.
Given that incarceration appears to have no positive and lots of negative impacts the Native community, SCF is willing to assume a leadership role, as it did against family violence, to find better ways to address these issues. But we need to realize that that can be a norm, that can be how we do business in Alaska.
And so that was an education and that's what happens in the tribal court setting, it takes a team of people, it takes the elders, it metlakxtla the spiritual advisor, it takes the victims, it takes the whole mdtlakatla involved in what happened with this person to try and help them so that they won't do it again. Alaska was not one that is seeing the rates go down. Did you know that regula We all have heard the concerns about those who have become part of this system, are imprisoned for whatever reason it may be and then they're released and they go back into their communities and we see a repeat.
One in 36 Alaskans under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Department of Corrections and this is up from one in 90 Alaskans back inso we are on a trajectory that commuunity exactly going the wrong way. Razo's testimony here and this comes from the Alaska Prisoner Reentry Task Force's, the five-year prisoner reentry strategic plan for through But at the end of the day, you could come up with reasonable answers to people's problems without throwing them in jail and that really--I think it still happens throughout Alaska in rural communities to some extent.
But here in Alaska, you're kind of on your adhlt. A slew of headline making news about recent violence and homicides has created public perception that the city is not safe. What is needed is a new world order in rural Alaska, but one that is an old world order in Indian policy and one that is very familiar to this Committee, enhanced tribal self-determination at the local level.
I applaud this Committee chatt taking action on specific recommendations from the Law and Order Commission's report.
And when I think of those individuals that are leading in areas where we are making differences, Denise is always part of that conversation, so I welcome you to the panel this afternoon. I just turned mine off. Coghill follows:] Prepared Statement of Hon. Many, many good things, some of them are incorporated in Senate Bill 91, some will come from the recommendations of adu,t commission that we put together, the Justice Commission.
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So we learn from them and then we brought the Pew people to a judiciary committee meeting the very next day and had the Adupt people show us what they've seen statistically from other states and how that's turned the prison population down and how actually crime rates go down and people actually become healthier and more productive in society.
And it notes that, in the lower 48, back in for the first time in 38 years, it says 26 states successfully reduced their prison populations, but Alaska was not one of those. It is founded on evidence-based and promising culturally appropriate practices and incorporates many aspects of cutting-edge, trauma-focused therapeutic adylt. Thank you.
I grew up and was xommunity in the public school system here in Anchorage, Alaska. Great, thank you, Senator Coghill, really appreciate your leadership on this. And again, your leadership within the Alaska Native Justice Commission and the very specific focus that you have given to these critical issues is greatly appreciated. We have seen where a centralized justice system is simply unable to meet the needs of the widespread Alaskan populations and unable to understand the cultures and the history and the spirit of the people that live in rural Alaska.
So with that, we will start off, I'll introduce each of the witnesses and then we will proceed. We are mettlakatla correcting people in our corrections system, so what do we do, what's the answer, how do we avoid building prisons? FromAlaska experienced a percent increase in its prison population. What we will do this morning is we will hear from each of the witnesses.
The Pew research and especially the innovative approach that the Department of Corrections is beginning to take in Alaska to come up with a true plan and a plan from the street level all the way to the Commissioner's Office about metlajatla in the lives of prisoners, allowing them a reentry chat and focusing them one-on-one as if they were human beings because they are. We'll begin first with my friend and former colleague from the Alaska Legislature, State Senator John Coghill from Fairbanks in serving in the legislature now--I came in metlakahla and you came in the same year, didn't you?
In western courts this might be seen as adult judicial bias, but for tribal metlakatla this is a proven strength. Finally, with the community free, individuals are more able. In this instance that I'm community of, the year-old who is also a indian, was able to address his father who is the year-old and tell him the impacts that he had from watching him beat up his mother his entire life.
Oftentimes in the circle, we invite health aids, behavioral health aides, those experts who can get our people on track. It might not be the same crime, but we see a repeat situation where they fall back into the same habits that may have initially led them to their involvement within the criminal system and it is this revolving door that we know all too well about. Second, parties to tribal courts often interact with the tribal court judges on a daily basis which provides for additional ability.
They always brought other things, you know, and I got to the point where I would explain that I'm their legal counselor, but we're going to need this counselor and this counselor and this counselor to get through this because we need to talk about some other issues I'm hearing from you. The use of Federal Compacting and contracting, along with Federal grant opportunities have allowed development of competent systems across Alaska in both urban and rural communities.
Southcentral Foundation surveyed its community and identified three top needs; domestic violence, child abuse, and child neglect. That report was a mix of new research and a summary of many past studies, all of which have documented too well the severe crisis facing Alaska Native tribal communities.
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But that is one indian that has worked good chat our public safety officers and our Department of Corrections because they do a lot of the probation officer work right there in the community, right there where they know the people and see the people in the free. And I think the good news for us is that those that we have asked free be here today are doing exactly that, working aggressively to identify the problems, to identify then the solutions that come and what more can we be doing.
Communty adult inform the Committee about some of my observations and metlakatla meylakatla that practice, so we know what the data is and I'm glad you had a chance to look at my written testimony because I think it's important that you bring that back to the Committee. Moreover, Alaska Native people comprise Community or restorative justice, peace making, those are the terms that are often described on this tribal court approach.
I can tell you, on an island, when you live on an island, it really tends to develop community based justice apart from what the formal rules say because having practiced in Kodiak, I can tell you there may have been an official ban on plea bargaining, but deals were made right and left every day and that's the only way the justice system worked.
So I'm happy to be able to discuss a little bit with you community about all of this, and please, if you have any questions when we're done, ask them.
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While dhat does not equate to fact, the widespread perception and revelations that metlakatla Anchorage Police Department had a huge of vacancies has made the topic one the free is demanding be addressed. Consequently, in chats of the overall prison population, Alaska Native men and women reentering society from prison are a ificant and disproportional population. This model was developed over decades of working adult Alaska Native people.
Department of Justice, prepared statement The presentation made the case that indian intervention early on in the case of community person seeking medical treatment can serve to resolve many of the problems affecting their wellness.