We hope to answer many of your questions below.
- Why do we need to build the correctional center?
- How large is the correctional center?
- Where will the new correctional center be located?
- How was Point MacKenzie selected as the location for the new correctional center?
- When will the correctional center be built?
- How is the design-build team being selected?
- What kind of prisoners will be housed at the facility?
- How much will the correctional center cost?
- Will Mat-Su Borough taxpayers foot the bill for the correctional center?
- Is there any risk to the Mat-Su Borough taxpayers if the state does not make the annual lease/purchase payments?
- How will the public be involved throughout this process?
- What will be the long-term economic impacts associated with prison operations?
- What will be the economic impact of prison construction?
- What other types of economic benefits will accompany the correctional center?
- How will the correctional center affect safety in local communities?
- Will the correctional center pollute Goose Bay?
- Will the correctional center lights cause light pollution?
- Will the correctional center be expanded in the future?
- How often do prisoners escape? What is DOC’s safety record?
- Will inmates ever be outside the secure perimeter?
- How can I get a job working on the construction project?
1. Why do we need to build the correctional center? Top
All of Alaska’s corrections system facilities are overcrowded. In addition to the over-crowding of the instate facilities, about 1,000 Alaska prisoners were housed in Arizona for years. In 2009, these prisoners are moving to Colorado. These prisoners must be flown back and forth for court dates. Building a new correctional center in Alaska will result in lower transportation costs and more efficient corrections operations statewide. In addition, a new correctional center in Alaska will keep more of the money spent on prisoner care inside the state. Many prisoners housed outside of Alaska would be returned. Existing correctional facilities in the state will be able to operate closer to normal capacities which would make them all safer and more effective. Also, keeping prisoners within the state would strengthen their family connections, which has been proven to enhance rehabilitation and decrease re-incarceration rates.
2. How large is the correctional center? Top
The Goose Creek Correctional Center will be approximately 435,000 SF. The medium security correctional center will have 1,536 beds for male prisoners. The site is about 330 acres with 90 cleared acres. The new facility will be designed and constructed as a prison for long-term sentenced prisoners. In the near term, it will also provide overflow capacity for un-sentenced prisoners from local pre-trial facilities until additional jail beds have been constructed.
3. Where will the new correctional center be located? Top
Goose Creek Correctional Center will be located at the corner of Alsop Road and Point MacKenzie Road, approximately nine miles from the Port MacKenzie dock.
4. How was Point MacKenzie selected as the location for the new correctional center? Top
Senate Bill 65 authorized the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) to enter into agreements for several new, or expanded, correctional facility projects. One of these was a new prison project in the Mat-Su Borough. Senate Bill 65 was passed by the Alaska State Legislature in 2004. A site selection process was conducted in 2006 to locate an appropriate site within the Mat-Su Borough. Sixteen sites were evaluated in a two-step process culminating in the selection of the Point MacKenzie site.
5. When will the correctional center be built? Top
Construction began in March 2009 and will be complete December 2011. Operations Phase-in will be complete June 2012.
6. How is the design-build team being selected? Top
In April-May 2008, a pre-qualification process was conducted to solicit interest from design-build teams and to select three design-build teams to compete for the Goose Creek Correctional Center project. Cornerstone/J.E. Dunn, j.v, Hunt/Lydig/Kiewit Pacific Co., j.v., and Neeser Construction Inc. were the top three teams selected. The Design-Build competition for the project ended in October 2008 and Neeser Construction Inc. was selected as the design-build team for the Goose Creek Correctional Center.
7. What kind of prisoners will be housed at the facility? Top
The Goose Creek Correctional Center will be an all-male, medium-security facility, housing prisoners which require housing, program, and supervision within the institution’s perimeter.
8. How much will the correctional center cost? Top
The anticipated cost to design and build the correctional center is approximately $240 million.
9. Will Mat-Su Borough taxpayers foot the bill for the correctional center? Top
No. The Mat-Su Borough has sold revenue bonds to finance the project. The bonds do not obligate the Mat-Su Borough financially and will not be paid by Mat-Su Borough taxes. The state will pay for the bonds through lease payments over 25 years.
10. Is there any risk to the Mat-Su Borough taxpayers if the state does not make the annual lease/purchase payments? Top
No. The correctional center is financed by revenue bonds, which are backed by an annual lease payment, which itself is backed by an annual appropriation from the Legislature. By contrast, a general obligation bond is backed by the Mat-Su Borough’s property taxpayers. This project is not funded through general obligation bonds. Payment risk is not to the taxpayers but to the bond holder and State of Alaska. However, the risk is minimal because a correctional center is considered an essential service. The State has never defaulted on any payments for any projects financed in this manner.
11. How will the public be involved throughout this process? Top
A five-member Citizens Advisory Committee was established on July 8, 2008 by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly, to advise the Assembly and the Alaska State Department of Corrections (DOC), with the intent of representing the interests of the Borough and the residents who live in the Point MacKenzie area. A project website (ww1.matsugov.us/prison) is updated regularly to provide information on the project and construction progress. Website includes project updates, construction photos, meeting dates, project information, project team, FAQs and monthly update reports.
12. What will be the long-term economic impacts associated with prison operations? Top
This project will create both well-paying construction-related jobs and longer-term jobs related to the operation of the Goose Creek Correctional Center. The economic impact of both types of employment will have a positive ripple effect throughout the Borough and the State of Alaska.
Approximately 350-400 jobs will be created to operate the correctional center. These will primarily be full-time jobs providing well-above average income ($48,000/year average income versus $33,953/year Borough-wide average income) with health coverage, retirement compensation, and other employment benefits. Correctional center jobs are non-seasonal and generally impervious to economic ups and downs. In addition to prison operation jobs, the correctional center and its employees will result in additional jobs and economic activity for businesses (food supplies, maintenance and repair services, utilities, transportation, etc.).
13. What will be the economic impact of prison construction? Top
Correctional center construction will provide full-time and part-time work over a period of three years and will have a $100 million plus payroll. Like prison operations, construction will result in support industry jobs for business that support the construction project.
14. What other types of economic benefits will accompany the correctional center? Top
Services and amenities will need to be provided for correctional center employees and visitors. It is expected that a commercial services area may develop near the correctional center providing restaurants, motels, recreation options and other services. The new correctional center will also increase the demand for housing. Even assuming that some of the new correctional center employees may already live in the Borough and that some will continue to live outside the Borough, the majority of the employees will eventually become new Borough residents. If we assume that 70% of the correctional center employees will eventually become new residents, approximately 262 additional houses will be needed for employee families alone.
15. How will the correctional center affect safety in local communities? Top
An information brief produced by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, Issues in Siting Correctional Facilities, provided an overview of a study conducted by the Government Center of the Florida International University on the impact of the siting a correctional center on crime rates in a locale. That study found that either (1) there was no significant difference between the crime rates for the target area, the area where the correctional center was built, and the control area, or (2) the crime rate was lower than in the control area. In other words, there was either no effect or the crime rate dropped around the correctional center.
Law enforcement officials surveyed for the study reported that the correctional facilities did not contribute to the community crime rates. While the officials were aware of a small number of prisoner visitors having committed offenses in the facilities involving the introduction of contraband, not one was aware of a crime having been committed in the community by a prisoner visitor.
Studies have also shown that good design of a correctional center can minimize negative impacts. New design standards create totally sealed buildings that keep inmates visually and physically separate from communities. There are very few escapes from Alaska facilities and it follows that there is little resulting criminal activity.
16. Will the correctional center pollute Goose Bay? Top
No. It is unlikely that there will be discharge to the wildlife refuge. If it is, the discharge would undergo tertiary treatment and cooling of effluent (tertiary treatment results in potable water). The system that is ultimately used will be regulated by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation through the discharge permitting process. This process is designed to minimize the environmental impact of treated wastewater.
17. Will the correctional center lights cause light pollution? Top
Light pollution has been an issue with prisons in the past. Recent advances in lighting and camera technology allows designers to mitigate this issue. The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) recognizes this problem and is actively seeking appropriations to remedy this problem around existing facilities. In the case of this new correctional center, these technological improvements in light fixtures and cameras will decrease both the amount of light required to keep the facility secure and how that light is dispersed. Lighting is now more precisely directed to the required area. Exterior lighting at this facility will be full cut-off down lighting, meaning that the light will be focused on the ground, not the sky. The planned lighting systems for the Goose Creek Correctional Center are vastly improved over existing Alaskan prison lighting, but will not completely mitigate “bounce back” from the snow covered ground during the winter months.
18. Will the correctional center be expanded in the future? Top
There are currently no plans to expand the Goose Creek Correctional Center. If an expansion were to occur, it would most likely be to add some minimum security facilities. This would provide DOC a source of prisoner labor which would reduce operations costs. Because the topography outside the correctional center footprint will make additional construction expensive, any additional future minimum beds may be developed at the Point MacKenzie prison farm that is only eight miles away from the current Goose Creek Correctional Center site.
19. How often do prisoners escape? What is DOC’s safety record? Top
Escapes from the prison are highly unlikely. During the past six years, DOC has had only three escapes from the twelve Alaska facilities it operates. These incidents occurred at unfenced facilities and all three prisoners were recovered without incident. The last actual escape from a fenced facility occurred in 1994 when two prisoners cut through fences and fled on foot. Both prisoners were recovered within 24 hours. The Goose Creek Correctional Center will be a double-fenced medium-security facility; more secure than most of the facilities referenced above.
20. Will inmates ever be outside the secure perimeter? Top
The inmates will not be allowed outside the perimeter unless correctional officers or law enforcement officers are escorting them, for instance to legal or medical services; or, correctional officer supervised work parties of minimum or community custody prisoners performing grounds maintenance.
21. How can I get a job working on the construction project? Top?
Many public construction jobs are filled by labor unions. We encourage you to contact the local unions directly about employment opportunities. Below are links to their websites.
Please visit the GCCC Project Team page to see a list of the contracting team and subconsultants.
22. How can I get a job working at the correctional center once it is complete? Top
For information on job opportunities, applications, and more, please refer to the Department of Corrections recruitment page at: www.correct.state.ak.us/corrections/co_recruitment/.