This is the first of three blog posts I plan on writing about the Halfway Houses in Anchorage, Alaska.
There are three halfways houses in Anchorage. Community residential centers, CRC’s, to be exact. Midtown and Cordova are now ran by GeoGroup, and Glenwood is owned and operated by TMJ Western. Parkview, owned by GeoGroup as well, closed down last year (2016).
I wanted to sit down and do a few blogs about halfway houses in Anchorage, and where is a better place than to start at the beginning. I went searching for a few key people that were part of the start of CRC’s here in Anchor town.
What I found about the background of CRC’s so far is pretty amazing.
From my limited research thus far, it appears the key player in the creation of halfway houses in Anchorage was William (Bill) Weimar. In the mid 80’s, Weimar saw there was an apparent need for streamlining case management with work release, and embarked on a quest to acquire third party contacts with Alaska Department of Corrections. In 1985 Bill Weimar helped found Allvest Inc. Over time he bought out his partners and grew the company into a multimillion dollar corporation. In 1991, Weimar started another corporation, St. John Investments Inc., which provided contract administrative services to Allvest Inc. At one time Weimar had owned and operated Allvest Laboratories, which did contract urinalysis work, but he sold that company in 1996 to NANA Regional Corporation.
Allvest Inc. led a controversial effort to get the state Legislature to approve a plan that would turn the abandoned Fort Greely Army post into the state’s first private prison. The Legislature approved the proposal and the planning process was under way. The good ol’ boys sat down together and drew out a plan where all would be happy. Money was to be made and strings were to be pulled.
In 1997, Weimar stepped back from overseeing day-to-day operations to focus more on development and corporate expansion. He had hired Frank Prewitt as the company’s new president and chief executive officer. Prewitt had served as commissioner of the state Department of Corrections in 1993 and 1994. The end came in 1998, as detailed in this article from Juneau Empire. Now, I was too young to remember Allvest and the fiasco that sequentially unraveled by the financial liberation it may or may not have took with legislation, but from what I can read thus far, Bill Weimar was a man with a vision, and a heart.
I think I would like the guy if I ever got a chance to meet him. Only via an old friend of his and online articles for research was I able to piece together the legend of this man. This article from ADN, well written by Michael Carey in 2011, shed the most light for me. It sent me on a squirrel chase, looking for the elusive Bill Weimar in order to maybe, just maybe, talk with him. I wanted his thoughts of how he envisioned halfways houses to be, and let him know how far they have fallen from his standard.
That is the quick and painless overview of what I was able to find regarding the early days of Anchorage CRC’s.
Now, I will focus on something I personally know about.
The Glenwood Center.
Most people that have never been to a halfway house do not fully understand what the day to day rules and regulations are. I know I had misconception myself until I got to have a very up close and personal understanding of one.
For instance, at Glenwood Center, there is an Orientation Handbook as well as a Resident Handbook. You are identified as a PRISONER not a resident. That is made clear repeatedly. Rules are very similar to Department of Corrections, with similar sanctions as well. One big discrepancy is the staff understanding of the rules they are set to enforce. With a greater window of freedom also comes a greater chance for screwing up. And, lets face it, many of the residents at a CRC did not get there due to making the best choices. Click here for my copies of the Glenwood Resident Handbook and Orientation Handbook.
A halfway house costs the state $99 a day for each inmate, compared to $142 a day for a jail cell.
Looking at the privately ran Glenwood Center, I started the basic search using google. I was directed to tjmwestern.com which listed an 800 number to report PREA (Prisoner Rape Elimination Act) and states:
The leadership and staff of TJM Western, Inc. (TJMW) have always placed a high priority on creating a safe and healthy environment in which to assist our residents with a successful transition from prison to community. Our approach to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is to utilize the legislation to provide additional guidance for us to further foster safe programs built on a culture of respect for the rights of all individuals.
According to TJ Mahoney & Associates on LinkedIn Founded in 1974, TJ Mahoney & Associates is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping prison inmates become responsible, productive members of their communities. Our objective is to improve the likelihood of successful community reentry, thereby reducing recidivism and the long-term financial and social costs of incarceration. We have a successful history of operating programs for both male and female inmates in Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.
When I contacted a staff member no longer working at Glenwood Center I was able to ask them questions about the dynamics of working for TJM Western. This is an excerpt of our conversation. I am keeping the ex staff monitors name private.
what up doing my next blog on GWC looking for insider info anything you wanna pipe in
Ex staff member
As far as….?
What staff was told about for writeups, how did you find the job, what were people paid, what were the office dynamics, I would nt use any names
Ex staff member
As far as writes goes, you guys know the same as we do except that we’re suppose to do it when we choose not to. Found the job on Craigslist. $11.75 is the pay. Office Dynamics… Lol we’re lucky enough to call it that
What about with the probation officers, how did they feel about writeups, were any residents ever set apart or off limits…?
Ex staff member
Probation officers encourage write-ups for the problematic residents. As far as I saw, NAME OMITTED was the special one because he always snitched on everyone
what deemed residents problematic, and did anyone ever talk about how GWC is a privatized halfway house, were any perks offered for catching people doing bad?
Ex staff member
Problematic residents are the ones who pretty much cause problems, never follows the rules, never get any house work done. Everyone knew it was a private company so nobody really asked about it. There wasn’t any perks on catching people at all
What did you feel was the biggest challenge working there? How did the staff feel about management (COS, casemanagers) and vice versa?
Ex staff member
Biggest challenge was really dealing with both staff and residents. Some residents you know make small mistakes and they wanna throw them in the fire for it. Others do things because they don’t care. We gotta determine what’s the actual situation is. You already know how we felt about management and how unorganized they sometimes are
Ask any previous resident of Glenwood Center and you will quickly understand this is lip service. There is very little assistance with a successful transition from prison to community occurring. There is no one to contact regarding the way the rules are construed from the staff hired on Craigslist at $11.75 an hour, and if you do ask too many questions or make waves, you are quickly reminded that being there is a privilege, not a right.
The only reason an offender is there is to work. You must have a job, working a minimum of 32 hours a week. If you do not have a job meeting the minimum requirements you are liable for an IR (incident report) and possibly a preliminary hearing.
What does that mean?
Depending, a violation can cause one to receive extra in-house duties, program demotions, and/or termination from the center.
Interesting supporting info: