Kotzebue reopens local jail


Northwest Alaska’s only regional jail is open again after Kotzebue won a promise from the Alaska Department of Corrections for more money for its operations.

Kotzebue closed its 14-bed facility in July 2003, saying it would no longer subsidize its operations. This move forced Alaska State Troopers to house prisoners 250 kilometres away in Nome and to fly them back and forth to Kotzebue for court hearings.

In 2003, Kotzebue said it needed about $920,000 a year to feed, house and supervise prisoners. Alaska said it would pay no more than $589,000. Rather than make up the difference, Kotzebue closed the jail.

Then police refused to transfer prisoners arrested by Kotzebue municipal police to Nome until they had been arraigned in Kotzebue. That forced the city to reopen the jail for its own prisoners who were held in a small, chain-link holding pen known as the “dog cage.”

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