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Letters from Spring Creek: ‘Cliqued Up’ coming in December

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.

By way of introduction, my name is Jason Vukovich and I am serving a 23 year prison sentence for 1st Degree Assault, Robbery and Burglary. I was called the ‘Avenging Angel’ in the press and was convicted of assaulting and robbing multiple pedophiles in the Anchorage area. Since arriving in this prison, I have devoted myself to rehabilitation and the Restorative Justice Initiative ——— of which, I am a board member. This has given my life meaning and an ongoing value it didn’t have before. I spend much time in the Hobby Shop here, and have been mentored by master carvers, jewelry makers and engravers. Also, myself and two others, have written, produced and recorded a seven episode first season of ‘Cliqued Up’ Spring Creek, a podcast, which is available in December on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud. 

This was an idea of mine, which I didn’t think was possible, but many thanks to the Warden, Megan Edge, D.O.C. Spokesperson and the Commissioner (who came to Seward specifically to appear on the promo!) it became a reality.

We used ‘ancient’ recording equipment, purchased by inmates, and free software on the computer in education to edit our production. Then, at a crucial point along the way, the D.O.C. found donated microphones, an interface and some soundproofing for us to utilize, to clean up the audio a bit and produce something that was listenable. 

We were very fortunate to have Mr. Lapinskas’ blessing and participation, and we have now converted one ell in the Housing Unit into a makeshift studio, with the hope that we can continue to produce ongoing episodes as time goes by.

Our first season, hosted by myself, Anthony Garcia and produced by Nicholas Showers-Glover, all long-term inmates here in Spring Creek, focuses on the seven steps in the evolution of a prisoner’s heart, from loss, hate, indifference and so on …. all the way to a state of peace. We utilized excerpts of the peer led Morals + Ethics class here in Spring Creek, and did some one on one interviews withthe Warnde and inmates, also, each episode features an oroginial song written and recorded here in the prison, by inmates participating in the Music Club.

Lots of people were hesitant to be recorded and put their voices on the record, but, once we had established a trust and they recognized that we would allow their opinion to be heard, without judgement, they started to open up. Spring Creek has been a battleground for some number of years, inmates vs. the C.O.’s, inmates vs. the community, and so forth … Changing that dynamic isn’t easy, not fun. It’s unpleasant to take people out of their comfort zone, even if what they’re used to is detrimental to everyone. More of the same, brings more of the same, this we know, but change in a Maximum Security Lock-Up requires courage, stregnth and ingenuity. In order for an inmate such as myself, to interact with the Administration in a productive way, related to an endeavor such as this, requires trust on both sides and the stretching of previously established boundaires which have been in place for many years. A lot of the guys here now, and just passing through, are beginning to see this new way o interacing with the staff and community, and I belive this sort of new culture will pay off. 

We hope that this podcast will reach people outside and shed new light on this part of our community here in Alaska. We have chosedn to use spiritual princiaples to transform ourselves, this sort of change is for anyone if it can be done here. It is possible to arrive at a state of peace, even within the walls, we hope that people will download Cliqued-Up Spring Creek, listen in, and be a part of that change.

The sun continues to rise and fall in Spring Creek, and the same rain that falls on those outside, in the community, falls on us, another part of your community, living out each day in prison. I hope our effort to share what’s happening inside becomes a bridge to those of you that see the prison across the water.