Alaska in Brief
Winkelman named Alaska Corrections commissioner-designee by Gov. Dunleavy
This symbol is inside of the Alaska Department of Corrections office on Sept. 7, 2022, in Douglas, Alaska. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named the Alaska Department of Corrections’ interim leader to serve long term as the agency’s commissioner-designee. The position is subject to confirmation by the Legislature.
“Commissioner Winkelman has demonstrated sound judgment and leadership these past few months,” Dunleavy said in the release. “She brings both experience and knowledge to the commissioner’s office and Alaskans can be assured the department is in good hands.”
Commissioner-designee Winkelman is based in Juneau. Her name will be forwarded later this month to the Alaska Legislature for confirmation. Senate and House members meet jointly, typically late in the legislative session, to vote on all of the governor’s appointees.
Corrections ended 2022 with a decade-high number of deaths – 18. All but one of them took place while Winkelman was acting commissioner. During a news conference in October, she said the deaths were not unusual.
“While it’s unfortunate to have any death, it is not unusual and it is not a reflection on our staff’s ability to care. We have over 30,000 people that enter and leave our facilities every year, and it’s often a very sick population,” Winkelman said at the time. “The average number of deaths over the last 10 years is nearly 12 deaths per year.”
Corrections has faced criticism and scrutiny over this high number of 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.
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