Resolution 2019-05: Wrongfully Convicted People Receive Permanent Fund Dividends for Years Spent Incarcerated

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WHEREAS,  Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native tribal health and social services consortium established by the Interior Alaska tribes and tribal communities, to provide a unified voice in advancing sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development and culture of the Interior Alaska Native; and

WHEREAS, incarcerated Alaskans are not eligible to receive a Permanent Fund Dividend check. And individuals that have been incarcerated for many years that have successfully sought post-conviction relief and have been exonerated do not have a mechanism to apply for the years of PFD checks that were wrongly withheld; and

WHEREAS,  Senator Kawasaki has introduced legislation for several years that seeks to pay out dividend checks to Alaskans whose convictions were vacated or reversed and dismissed; and

WHEREAS, the fiscal note on this bill is zero because the Dept. of Revenue has established a tiny percentage of the fund that is set aside to pay out dividends from past years in a variety of circumstances.  The money to support this legislation already exists; and

WHEREAS,  providing the PFD to those Alaskans who have lost this privilege on account of a conviction is one of the few things that the State of Alaska can do to help reentering citizens reestablish a normal life while providing a means to find housing, food, and education; and

WHEREAS, thirty states currently offer compensation of some sort to people that have been wrongfully convicted.  Ranging from tuition at state run Universities, job placement services, medical insurance, and mental health services, this bill would bring Alaska into the group of states that improving the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors supports current legislation that restores the past Permanent Fund Dividend checks for people that have had their conviction vacated, reversed, or dismissed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we advocate for this current legislation to be reintroduced each session until it becomes the law of the land.


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