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Autopsy on Dead Inmate Reveals Ulcers, Internal Bleeding

Mallory Peebles Mallory Peebles, Crime and Law Enforcement, Natural Resources and Parks Reporter, Fill-in Anchor,
POSTED: 11:45 PM AKDT May 01, 2014

During April in a span of less than two weeks, two inmates died in their jail cells under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections.

While the Alaska Correctional Officers Association says the deaths can likely be attributed to what it calls understaffing, DOC officials says the incidents are normal nothing unusual.

“The department experiences an average of 10 to 12 deaths a year,” said Laura Brooks, DOC’s health care administrator. “So given this is April and this is our third death of the year, it really doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary for what we typically experience.”

Davon Mosley, 20, was found dead in an Anchorage Jail cell on April 4. According to DOC, autopsy results found he died of natural causes, a result of internal bleeding from 14 ulcers in his intestines. An investigation into the actions of correctional officers supervising Mosley’s unit is ongoing, according to DOC Director of Institutions Bryan Brandenburg.

“We do review the performance of the staff whether they were following post orders and standard operating procedures to ensure we were in compliance with most of them, and I can tell you for the most part that was the case,” Brandenburg said.

In a separate case, 24-year old Amanda Kernak was found dead at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center on April 10. DOC would not comment on her death citing an ongoing investigation.

Brandenburg says it’s unlikely the public will ever know whether disciplinary action is taken against correctional officers in an inmate’s death, but that’s a product of state regulations rather than DOC itself.

“You probably would never be able to know that, given the personnel rules as far as discipline concerned for state employees,” Brandenburg said.

At ACOA, the union for the state’s correctional officers, Business Manager Brad Wilson sees other issues with the DOC’s response to the recent deaths.

“The DOC’s secrecy doesn’t have to do with avoiding a litigation — it has to do with avoiding accountability,” Wilson said.

Wilson says the recent deaths highlight issues with staffing, despite DOC officials’ assertion that they’ve hired more employees.

“Correction officers have been saying for six years increasing the inmates, because you’re going to have serious problems, and now we’re seeing those serious problems,” said Wilson.

According to DOC, there is no connection between staffing levels and the recent deaths. Officials says the recent inmate deaths are a loss felt not only by their families, but also the correctional officer and medical staff overseeing them during incarceration.

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