Alaska in Brief

Annual death toll of people in Alaska Corrections custody continues to climb as 17th death is reported

By: - November 14, 2022 5:28 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)

Khari Wade, 51, died on Nov. 11 at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, becoming the 17th person to die in the state’s prison system this year, according to an Alaska Department of Corrections press release on Monday.

This is the highest number of in-custody deaths Corrections has seen in the past decade, the time period for which records are immediately available. That’s in contrast to four people who died in custody in the decade low of 2019. The previous high death year was in 2015 when 15 people died in Corrections custody.

In its release, Corrections stated that Wade, who was sentenced, had been in custody since August 27, 2017. The release said Wade’s death was “anticipated.” 

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’ve 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. 

Last month, the ACLU of Alaska formally requested that Gov. Mike Dunleavy initiate an independent review of the deaths of Alaskans while in Corrections custody. An ACLU spokesperson said the governor has still not responded to the request.

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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]

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