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Alaska jails want more flexibility to grant inmate furloughs

December 15, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Corrections proposed a rule change that would give jails more flexibility in deciding whether a prisoner can be released on furlough.

A furlough is a release of an inmate into a halfway house to help the inmate reintegrate into society. Furloughs are only available to inmates who are within three years of their release date and are granted at the discretion of a Department of Corrections regional director.

The current law forbids jails from furloughing inmates who are being investigated for disciplinary action or who have been found guilty of “major” or “high-moderate” jail infractions in the previous four months.

The department is accepting public comment on its rule change through Friday, which would make protocol less strict, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

Department spokeswoman Megan Edge said the furlough policy change is part of a larger effort to replace “out-of-date” regulations and policies. Eliminating the restriction on inmates who have committed infractions while in jail gives staff more flexibility to use their discretion.

“Let’s say for example someone is written up because they stayed on the phone too long or maybe they were verbally disrespectful to a staff member,” Edge said. “They’d be written up, and if found guilty of that infraction . wouldn’t be eligible to be placed on furlough for some time. Now, although we don’t condone that behavior, maybe being placed on furlough is still a better option for that person.”

Edge added that someone who is written up for a violent infraction is unlikely to receive a furlough.

“We do not want to risk community safety, which is our number one priority,” she said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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