Adam Beyer


The Alaska Constitution creates a unique promise for those convicted of crimes. In Abraham v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court held that article I, § 12 grants offenders a "right to rehabilitation." Such a right is uncommon; few states, if they have similar protections at all, have labeled it a right. In the years since Abraham, the Court has occasionally addressed claims invoking the right, making clear that its decision was not an aberration. The court's most thorough examination of the right occurred this term in Department of Corrections v. Stefano. This article seeks to examine and clarify the current doctrine before arguing that litigants and the Court should continue developing the right to rehabilitation. What's certain is that the right places due process limitations on the state's ability to terminate an offender's participation in formal rehabilitative programming or deprive an inmate of a benefit without providing a comparable rehabilitative alternative. But I argue that litigants should seek broader application of the right in other areas of the criminal justice system.

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