Last month, a prisoner walked out of the Anchorage jail a free man. Unremarkable, except it was five months after his sentence ended. By the Department of Corrections’ own admission, the man — who the department would not name — spent nearly an extra six months incarcerated because of a clerical error in the computation of his complicated sentence.

  • On Tuesday, May 17, a prisoner walked out of the Anchorage Correctional Complex a free man. Unremarkably, it was five months after his sentence ended
  • The Department of Corrections admitted, the man – who the department would not name – spent nearly an extra six months incarcerated because of a clerical error in the computation of his complicated sentence
  • His case is an extreme example of a widespread and unconstitutional problem in Alaska’s criminal justice system
  • The Department of Corrections kept errors hidden if they hadn’t been discovered by state investigators, of more than 100 inmates in jail for days, weeks and even months after their sentences expired because of clerical errors, an analysis of data from the state ombudsman’s office shows
  • According to Alaskan news sources, there are two to three calls per month from people, almost in all rural Alaska jails, who claim they’ve been detained for longer than their sentences
  • Attorney Jim Bethel said in a statement “I’ve seen it a few days and I’ve seen it as long as a month. Those people are missing out on work, family life, subsistence, activities, holidays. They are missing out on their lives. I can’t think of anything worse, more unfair, than someone who is sitting in jail for no reason. That’s a miscarriage of justice”
  • The prisoner released in May would have cost the state at least $23,000.00 in unnecessary incarceration
  • A decade-old Alaska Supreme Court decision stripped inmates who have been incarcerated past their rightful release dates of their ability to sue the Department of Corrections for damages
  • Approximately 36 convicted inmates are released everyday, five people work on time accounts, according to DOC spokesman Corey Allen-Young
  • He may not be able to sue, but he is being given a gift certificate from the Department of Corrections, to be redeemed at a later date. Officials say he can use the extra months spent in custody as “credit” for “any future parole/probation violations” in his case.