Alaska in Brief

Alaska Corrections reports 18th death of 2022, most on record for past decade

By: - December 20, 2022 4:40 pm
This symbol is inside of the Alaska Department of Corrections office on Sept. 7, 2022, in Douglas, Alaska. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

This symbol is inside of the Alaska Department of Corrections office on Sept. 7, 2022, in Douglas, Alaska. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

Morris Teeluk, 64, died on Dec. 11 at Goose Creek Correctional Center, becoming the 18th person to die in the state’s prison system this year, according to an Alaska Department of Corrections press release on Tuesday.

This is the most in-custody deaths Corrections has seen in the past decade, the time period for which records are immediately available. Four people died in custody in the decade low of 2019. The previous high death year was 2015, when 15 people died in Corrections custody.

In its release, Corrections stated that Teeluk, who was sentenced, had been in custody since Nov. 25, 2014. The release said Teeluk’s death was “anticipated,” and Alaska State Troopers and the State Medical Examiner’s Office are notified

Corrections has faced criticism and scrutiny over the high number of deaths this year, deaths which include several individuals in their 20s or 30s or who died after only a short time in state custody. Some family members have struggled to get information from Corrections about how their loved one died. The department has cited privacy laws in response to questions about why it hasn’t provided more details. 

As of July 31, the state’s prison system housed 4,676 Alaskans, according to figures kept by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Information Center.

Teeluk’s next of kin has been notified and no foul play is suspected, according to the release. Citing confidentiality, Corrections does not release medical information.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Lisa Phu
Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu covers justice, education, and culture for the Alaska Beacon. Previously, she spent eight years as an award-winning journalist, reporting for the Juneau Empire, KTOO Public Media, KSTK, and Wrangell Sentinel. She's also been Public Information Officer for the City and Borough of Juneau, lead facilitator for StoryCorps Alaska based in Utqiagvik, and a teacher in Tanzania and Bhutan. Originally from New York, Lisa is a first generation Chinese American and a mom of two young daughters. She can be contacted at [email protected]

MORE FROM AUTHOR