The ACLU of Alaska has expressed serious concerns regarding the Department of Corrections (DOC) response to COVID-19, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in state jails and prisons and has caused extreme restrictions, with detrimental impacts, to the lives of thousands of incarcerated people. As such, the ACLU of Alaska filed a public records request with the department on Tuesday.
Specifically, the ACLU of Alaska is requesting records around COVID-19 testing, housing information for individuals who test positive, records relating to the reduction or curtailing of programing and the suspension of visitation, as well as cop outs, complaints, and grievances from prisoners regarding the department’s response to the pandemic.
“A year-and-a-half into this pandemic and DOC’s apparent focus is on measures that severely restrict the civil liberties of incarcerated people, while failing to protect them from COVID-19. In turn, people are unable to have contact visits or access programming, and they live in pseudo-purgatory lockdown conditions – and despite these horrific conditions, people are still getting sick and dying. DOC must do better,” ACLU of Alaska Legal Director Stephen Koteff said.
The only public information available on DOC’s response is extremely outdated, posted in early-2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, multiple facilities have experienced significant outbreaks, staffing shortages, and months-long suspension of visitation. Six people have died from COVID-19 in DOC’s care.
The Department of Corrections has 10 business days to respond to the records request.
The records request can be found here: https://www.acluak.org/sites/default/files/doc_covid_conditions_public_records_request.10.26.21.pdf