Families seek answers in Alaska jail deaths

ANCHORAGE — The families of two inmates who died in Alaska jails within a week of each other are looking for answers to questions they say are not being answered.

Amanda Kernak was arrested for drunken driving and spent less than three days in jail at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River before the 24-year-old Anchorage woman was found dead in her cell April 10.

On April 4, the body of Davon Mosley, 20, of Bakersfield, Calif., was found in his cell at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. Mosley’s family, who said he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, has hired an attorney.

The families of the inmates say they want the state Department of Corrections to explain how and why two young people died in their jail cells, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

DOC spokeswoman Kaci Schroeder said the deaths are under investigation.

The agency, however, does not see the two deaths as an indication of a failure to provide health care to inmates.

“These are two unrelated incidents, at two separate facilities with no similarities between their medical circumstances or housing status,” wrote Laura Brooks, the deputy director and health care administrator for the department. “So these incidents do not at all indicate a systemic issue with the Department’s medical or mental health care.”

Less than a month before she died, Kernak suffered a heart attack — heart problems to be brought on by alcohol abuse, according to her family, who said Kernak needed medication with her at all times. Family members believe Kernak was going through alcohol withdrawal in jail. They want to know if Kernak asked for medical care in jail, and whether she got it.

“I want to know why didn’t they check her withdrawal symptoms,” said Alina Cobb, Kernak’s aunt. “She should have been in a hospital.”

Schroeder said there are no inpatient detoxification facilities in the DOC system, but inmates would be transferred to a hospital for inpatient detoxification if they showed signs of severe withdrawal.

Mosley’s family wants to know why he remained in jail when prosecutors had filed to dismiss a fugitive charge against him more than a week earlier.

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