Effects of the State of Alaska's budget shortfall could be felt sooner rather than later in Kodiak, if the Department of Corrections' proposed budget moves forward unchanged. In it are no funds for any of the 15 communities where the state contracts for jail space.
That includes Kodiak, which at 24-beds, is the largest jail in the state that would be affected, according to Chief Rhonda Wallace. She said the city is in year two of a five year contract with the Department of Corrections, but she's not sure if the contract is iron-clad if the state really wanted to get out of it.
“If they're looking eliminate funding, you know, I guess they could possibly back out of that contract. But we're hoping it doesn't go that way.”
She said the city is looking at a loss of $1.2-million per year if it looses the state contract, which would likely put a crimp in her budgeting for next fiscal year.
“We would definitely have to come up with a contingency plan. Not looking forward to it. I'm hoping that Juneau will pull through and not do this. It not only affe3cts our community, but affects the inmates we do have here. Taking away that funding would definitely drop the amount of inmate we could house because we're not longer responsible then for Department of Correction inmates.”
At that point, the state would likely have to start flying inmates back and forth from Anchorage to make court appearances here in Kodiak.
“Our facility is a 30-day holding facility. So there's the ability to be able to hold people on the island where their families can still come see them. There's not such an impact to the individual. And then if they have a sentence that goes beyond the 30 days, then they can be transported off island. But it would cost the state quite a bit if they had to then transport all these people because they're state custody.”
Some smaller communities, like Haines, depend on the Community Jail program money to fund half their police departments. Wallace says that's not the case in Kodiak, and a potential cut wouldn't affect other KPD divisions.
“So everything that the 1.2-million that they give us goes to take care of training and travel, supplies, the repair and maintenance of the facility, the wages and salaries of the employees, rental equipment. Everything that is associated with the jail.”
She said the question of staff cuts to employees in the jail would depend on what the city council wanted to do, and how any contingency plan – if needed – works out.