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Crime & Justice

Update: Troopers, Police Nab ‘Dangerous Offender’ Who Fled Halfway House

Alaska State Troopers

UPDATE: Alaska State Troopers arrested a fugitive in downtown Fairbanks yesterday.

Troopers say they arrested 23-year-old Logan Patrick Austin at a gas station after getting a tip on his whereabouts.

Troopers say they got help from Fairbanks, North Pole and University police, and that Austin surrendered without incident.
He was taken to Fairbanks Correctional Center, where he was awaiting arraignment this afternoon.
Troopers considered Austin a dangerous offender because he had three warrants out for his arrest, including one for robbery. His criminal history includes convictions for theft and drug offenses.
He was indicted in October for possessing heroin, and was out on bail awaiting trial before he was picked up and charged on Jan. 4 with violating conditions of his release. He was sent back to Fairbanks Correctional Center and, a few days later, to the Northstar Center.
Austin walked away from the halfway house on Jan. 14, and Troopers issued a missing-person bulletin on Wednesday seeking the public’s help in locating him.

Background from Jan. 29 story:

Austin is the first offender to walk away from Northstar this year. Peters says last year, 39 people walked away from the facility, including one who escaped twice. All but three have been recaptured or turned themselves in.

That includes 38-year-old Michael Bracht, who walked away from Northstar on Sept. 8. Bracht was captured the next day after a high-speed chase through Fairbanks that ended in a 10-hour standoff in a parking lot on Geist Road. Bracht surrendered to police after releasing a hostage.

On Jan. 20, he was sentenced to 32 months in prison, but he escaped that night and is still on the loose.

State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle says Alaska doesn’t require halfway houses like Northstar  to have the kinds of security safeguards like those at Fairbanks Correctional Center.

She says that’s partly because the offenders who’re diverted to halfway houses are deemed not dangerous because their criminal history generally consists of lesser offenses, such as theft or substance abuse, and because they’ve maintained generally good conduct while serving time.

“It’s a transition between a secure facility and going back and living in the community.”

Daigle says halfway houses give offenders a chance to demonstrate they can be trusted to pay their debt to society and serve the remaining time on their sentence. Or, as in the case of Bracht and Austin, to show they aren’t.

“It just shows that they aren’t ready for that transition back into society,” she said.

When that happens, Fairbanks Police Lt. Eric Jewkes says law enforcement agencies have to divert officers to issuing warrants and apprehend escapees.

“Anything that’s added on is just going to take away from another place,” he said. 

Jewkes says even though the Northstar escapees aren’t considered serious offenders, catching them makes cops unavailable to go after the real bad guys.