Press Release

Judge Releases Grand Jury Recommendations on OCS Request

January 18, 2017

(Anchorage, AK) – In September of 2016, the Department of Law received a request to convene a grand jury to conduct an investigation of the Office of Children’s Services in the Department of Health and Social Services (OCS) to determine if OCS was complying with its statutory duties. The request was made pursuant to article I, section 8 of the Alaska Constitution, which allows a grand jury to “investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare or safety.” Just as normal grand jury proceedings are confidential, investigatory grand jury proceedings are also confidential under Alaska Criminal Rule 6(l). A judge must determine whether to unseal the recommendations and make them public.

Today, the Presiding Judge of the Third Judicial District unsealed the recommendations of the grand jury relating to the request to investigate OCS. The documents unsealed by Presiding Judge Morse show that the Department of Law presented the request to the grand jury on December 22, 2016. The grand jury issued two separate recommendations signed by the grand jury foreman.

In the first recommendation, the grand jury “determined that the Alaska Ombudsman, pursuant to Alaska Statute 24.55.010 - .340, is statutorily authorized to address the concerns.” In the second recommendation, the grand jury “determined that the Alaska Citizen Review Panel, pursuant to Alaska Statute 47.14.205 et. seq., is statutorily required to address the concerns.”

Based upon the recommendations, the Department of Law has forwarded the necessary information to the Ombudsman and the Citizen Review Panel.

CONTACT: Chief Assistant Attorney General Robert Henderson at (907) 269-6250 or robert.henderson@alaska.gov.

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