The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Prison beating raises questions

 

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Seward's Spring Creek Correctional Center

Jasmine Divine Angelica, formerly known as Jason Rak, severely beat a fellow inmate at Spring Creek Correctional Center on Friday. The inmate-on-inmate assault is being investigated by the Alaska State Troopers as the 48-year-old victim of the assault, Forrest Ahvakana, remains in critical condition at Alaska Regional Hospital. Charges are being forwarded to the District Attorney's Office.

Angelica, 25, is serving a 29-year prison sentence after an arrest for shooting at two brothers, Michael and Matthew Lewis, outside Dimond Center in Anchorage in January 2008. Michael Lewis was hit several times and uninvolved bystander Mason Sylvester was struck by a single bullet. Both victims recovered from their wounds.

Angelica subsequently pleaded guilty in November 2009 to two counts of first degree attempted murder and one count each of first degree assault and misconduct involving weapons. In May 2010 he was sentenced to prison along with over $50,000 in fines. In May 2012 his legal name change from Jason Rak to Jasmine Divine Angelica was legally certified.

Ahvakana was convicted of a December 2008 felony assault against Billy Kaleak which involved the bludgeoning of Kaleak with a Jack Daniels bottle in a Barrow home. It was the third violent felony conviction for Ahvakana which triggered the state's three strikes law and, upon conviction, earned him a 100 year sentence. Ahvakana had previous robbery and sexual assault convictions from separate 1987 and 1990 felony cases.

This is the latest in a string of violent incidents at the State of Alaska's highest security prison. Most recently inmates destroyed toilets and wreaked havoc during an August riot in a newly renovated cell block. An October 2012 assault sent a correctional officer to the hospital along with two other inmates. These incidents may be complicated by at least two situations troubling the Alaska Department of Corrections and SCCC.

Correctional officers and their union representatives have cited changes in staffing levels and procedures as contributing to a general lowering of standards and safety for CO's and inmates at the facility. Recently DOC managers have been force transferring personnel from other facilities such as Goose Creek Correctional Center near Wasilla to make up for lack of staff hired for SCCC.

A recent temporary assignment of correctional officers included almost a dozen probationary new hires who have yet to complete their first year of employment. The first year of CO employment is typically heavily invested in training for the job at a particular facility, and includes programs and testing for state certifications to professional standards.

Also, with prisoners from private Colorado prisons being reintroduced largely to GCCC and SCCC, social organization among inmates has been influenced and some may have been recruited into new gangs. For example, prisons in the Lower 48 including Colorado and Arizona have seen an upswing in the numbers and influence of the Native American Brotherhood. According to Arizona Department of Corrections literature, this group is more likely to have members involved in violent incidents.

Correctional officers and their representatives are concerned that changing dynamics within the state's medium and maximum prison facilities will combine with an inexperienced and over-stretched work force to create more opportunities for violence among inmates.

Whether this is the case with the latest assault remains to be revealed. However, previous reports on prison violence at SCCC have pointed to staffing levels and gang affiliations as being relevant.

AST continues to investigate the incident and the Department of Corrections is withholding comment pending those results.

 

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