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Letters from Spring Creek: A focus on reentry, podcast released

Prison offers the opportunity for much self-reflection, personal insight and development. 

Seems to me that hard shifts in political direction and management tend not to affect the hearts of those around me. The past few years at Spring Creek have been dynamic. I can tell you from ‘inside’ experience that we have not been afforded opportunities for change by way of gratuitous handouts and coddling. This process, of drawing people convicted of crimes out of their shell, to examine and change thoughts and then actions, has been work. It isn’t easy for any of us involved, from staff members learning to treat inmates as worthy of respect, to inmates learning to respect first themselves, then others — this has been many laborious years, and we are just now starting to see results. 

Our inmate-led Restorative Justice Program continues to facilitate programs and classes, with the primary end goal being reducing recidivism. We have continually received support from Kathleen at The Partners Re-Entry Center in Anchorage, and I cannot imagine what we would have done without her support.

We continue to have an important interaction each week at our peer led Morals and Ethics Class. This group is regularly full and continues to be a very important and effective way for us to learn from each other.

We have also recently opened a ‘first of it’s kind’ Re-Entry Community in one of the housing modules here at Spring Creek, Again, this is inmate led, with classes, clothing, resumes and more, all paid for and administered by long-term inmates. This is one of the most important things we have ever attempted, with our focus being – changing habits, teaching basic life skills, and transitioning people back to the community in a manner that may allow them to succeed. 

All of us should quickly recognize that no prison should ever have been opened without a mechanism for transition to release. Up until now, people would literally be hauled out of isolation, in shackles, sometimes after many years, then within hours, they would be standing in downtown Anchorage. This cannot continue, so, we now have ten volunteer mentors living in a Re-Entry Community. We have been able to assist in securing social security cards, birth certificates and have even worked together to provide incidentals such as underwear, t-shirts, coats and shoes for men returning to the community so they can have some semblance of a start.

In my last communication, I related the story of our creativity and producing a seven episode podcast called Cliqued-Up Spring Creek. Throughout the inception and recording we had the full support of Dean Williams (former D.O.C. Commissioner) and the D.O.C. Spokeswoman, Megan Edge. Mr. Williams even came to Seward and appeared on the promo of our series. This was supposed to have been released December 1. However, with the change of administration and all parties being scrutinized for their philosophy and loyalties, the podcast wasn’t made available until three days ago.

Thanks to Ms. Edge, you can now go to springcreekcliquedup.wordpress.com and listen to all seven episodes. 

We are also in the process of making them available on Soundcloud, Stitcher and iTunes. For those of us that put heart and soul into its production, this is a wonderful thing because our intention was to bridge the gap between the prison and the community. We also hope to reach the ears of the youth, to prevent them from ending up here, in prison.

I thank you for taking the time to consider our ongoing efforts here in Spring Creek and I hope this letter reaches you in a state of happiness and good health!

Best,

Jason Vukovich #264576

Letters from Spring Creek is an ongoing series submitted by prisoners at Spring Creek Correctional Center. It’s meant to update Seward about the goings-on of a significant portion of their population, those that live and work inside the correctional center’s walls. Since inmates don’t have access to computers, the newsletter is handwritten and mailed to The Seward Sun’s P.O. Box. From there it is typed verbatim, so any stylistic choices are at the discretion of the writer. Questions? Want to reach out to the author? Send Kat an email at editor@sewardsun.com and she’ll help you get in touch.