Alaska in Brief

Anchorage inmate dies after two days in custody in 7th Alaska inmate death this year

By: - September 7, 2023 2:46 pm
The entrance to the Anchorage Correctional Complex is seen on Aug. 29, 2022. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

The entrance to the Anchorage Correctional Complex is seen on Aug. 29, 2022. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

An Anchorage inmate died after two days in custody, the Alaska Department of Corrections reported Thursday. It is the seventh inmate death the department has reported this year.

Tristan Andrews was housed at the Anchorage Correctional Complex when he was pronounced dead on August 29th. He was 29 years old.

The cause of death has not yet been determined by the State Medical Examiner Office. Officials do not suspect foul play.

The news comes as the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is asking for an independent review of deaths in Alaska Department of Corrections custody and the department seeks a regulation change to improve its ability to hire enough staff.

Betsy Holley, the Department of Corrections spokesperson, said an internal review is underway.

“We treat every death with the same amount of sensitivity,” she said. “Any death of an inmate affects our staff.”

She added in an email that the Department of Corrections deals with what can be a medically fragile population that enters the system with medical, mental health and substance use related issues.

“Our inmate population is at greater risk for developing medical issues simply by virtue of lifestyle and socioeconomic status. They come to us with multiple physical ailments further complicated by years of substance abuse and/or untreated mental illness. Unfortunately, DOC cannot reverse years of damage, and most often we cannot stop the progression,” she wrote. She added that the department does everything it can to assess and meet the medical needs of inmates.

Last year, 18 inmates died in Alaska, the most in at least a decade. The state reported that seven of those deaths were from suicide and 11 from natural causes.


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Claire Stremple
Claire Stremple

Claire Stremple is a reporter based in Juneau, Alaska. She got her start in public radio, first at KHNS in Haines and then on the health and environment beat at KTOO in Juneau. Her focus for the Beacon is education and criminal and social justice.