A risk assessment program for imprisoned sex offenders was moved last week from Juneau to Southcentral Alaska to save money on transportation, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Portia Parker, deputy corrections commissioner, said moving the program would save money spent on sending prisoners to Juneau for incarceration and risk assessment.
"The only thing we're doing is relocating where the risk assessments are going to be done," Parker said. "Since it's so expensive to fly inmates to Juneau, it doesn't make sense in terms of statewide population."
Parker could not detail how much the change would save the state.
The $98,000 annual contract for risk assessment was most recently held by Gastineau Human Services in Juneau.
Two part-time employees were laid off as a result of the change, according to Gastineau Human Services correctional program director Erin Cruz.
The risk assessment program prepares sex offenders for treatment upon their release from prison, Parker said. Cruz said it identifies the likelihood of whether prisoners will commit another offense.
Parker said the contract would be put out for competitive bidding soon.
She said housing the risk assessment program in Southcentral makes more sense because the majority of prisons and prisoners are in Southcentral. She noted that Lemon Creek Correctional Center can hold 170 prisoners, compared to facilities in Palmer, Anchorage, Kenai, Eagle River and Seward that have double the capacity.
"We're simply consolidating it and trying to do more risk assessments," she said.
She said the corrections department established a four-month pilot program in January for a traveling risk assessment clinician.
"We wanted to see how it worked, if it was efficient and if we could get more risk assessments done," she said.
The department may continue the traveling clinician program if it is needed for inmates in Juneau and other parts of the state, Parker said.