Officials weigh in on Alaska's prison, substance issues

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Officials are hopeful that two recently passed laws and additional funding will help Alaska find solutions to problems with substance abuse and jail overcrowding.

    The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports several organizations hosted a discussion on the issues in Fairbanks on Tuesday. The meeting focused on the criminal justice reform and Medicaid reform bills approved by the Legislature this year.

    Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams says the changes will help improve safety at Alaska's prisons. He says overcrowding brought on by a growing number of low-level offenders and people who haven't yet been convicted of a crime has meant less funding for guards.

    Officials also discussed ways Medicaid expansion will help provide low-income residents with services for substance abuse treatment and grants to help fund sobering and detox centers.

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