ANCHORAGE -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is supporting Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska effort to establish two programs supporting individuals releasing from prisons. The hollistic Juneau-based programs, Alaway Avenue and Allen Court transitional housing programs, will not only help fill this growing gap of necessary services for returning citizens to be successful, but also provide alternative housing options outside of the private prison industry, which derive their corporate profits by warehousing and caging people, and outside of the congregate emergency shelter model that is struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alaska has long grappled with a persistently high recidivism rate: right now, 2 out of 3 Alaskans who are released from prison will reoffend again. This rate will grow as the pandemic rages without an end in sight, and institutional programming that provides education and vocational opportunities, substance misuse treatment, mental health services, and in-reach opportunities from post-incarceration service providers is, in some cases, suspended indefinitely or substantially scaled back. Service providers and formerly incarcerated people report that it’s now harder to obtain basic government identification necessary for gainful employment and housing, and the knowledge to be absorbed by a workforce now heavily reliant on technological skills and tools necessary to work remotely, such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

Read the entire letter, below.