Alaska Public Records
For people interested in viewing public records in Alaska, the state has created a sound public records law to facilitate requests. Each state in the nation has created its own public records law, and Alaska’s is more specific and straightforward than most.
From Juneau to Fairbanks, the state is in possession of an estimated 6.5 million public records that span everything from court records to birth certificates. While many of these records are now digital files as opposed to hard copies, locating a record can still be a challenge.
To start, a requester must know what kind of record they’re looking for and the agency that would have it. From there, a request form is usually needed to obtain the documents. In some cases, requesters can find information from public records search online.
To help people locate and review public records from any public agency, this guide should provide the directions necessary. We’ll explore what the public records law says in Alaska and provide resources to find criminal, inmate, court, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Alaska public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Alaska?
- 3 Alaska criminal records
- 4 Alaska inmate records
- 5 Alaska court records
- 6 Alaska vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Alaska records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Alaska?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 What kind of enforcement is in place?
- 7.6 Is there an appeal process?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
What does the Alaska public records law say?
The Alaska Public Records Act says that most records in the possession of municipal and state agencies are subject to public disclosure. Every branch of the government is subject to the law, and requests can be made in many forms including in-person and via email.
There’s specified response time and an appeals process in place, which provides more protection for citizens than other states.
To learn more about the public records law, start your search on Alaska.gov to see how The Last Frontier handles public records.
How can a person access public records in Alaska?
Accessing public records in Alaska all depends on the kind of record you want to see. For general public records that pertain to your city, a request can be issued to the city clerk. For other records like a criminal, inmate, court, or vital records, you need to reach out to that record-holding agency.
No matter which agency holds the records, you’ll likely need to submit a public records request, which should include:
- Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
- The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
- A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
- How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail
In some cases, it’s best to make requests by email, especially since offices may have different hours to due COVID-19.
Alaska criminal records
A criminal record, also known as a rap sheet, provides a list of criminal offenses associated with a specific person. It should detail instances of arrest, prosecution, and convictions. These records are usually accessed by employers to run a background check on new employees.
What’s on a criminal record?
Criminal records generally provide the following information when accessed:
- Personal information like name, date of birth, gender
- Physical descriptors
- Records of any criminal conviction
- Court orders
- Probation and probation orders
- Convicted crimes
Where can a person find Alaska criminal records?
- Resource: The Alaska Department of Public Safety
The Alaska Criminal Justice Information is maintained by the Department of Public Safety and is accessed by submitting a person’s name or a person’s fingerprints. The State of Alaska says submitting fingerprints is the best way to get accurate records.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety website has instructions and forms needed to request criminal records. Expect to pay a fee of $20 for a name search and $35 for a fingerprint search.
Alaska inmate records
Every state maintains records on its prison population. For people interested in an inmate’s location, prison term, and pending transfers, inmate records are the best source of information.
What’s on an inmate record?
For those wondering what’s on an inmate record, here’s what’s typically listed:
- Inmate’s name
- Date of birth
- The term of imprisonment
- Physical descriptions
- A photograph of the inmate
Where can a person find Alaska inmate records?
- Resource: The Department of Corrections
The Alaska Department of Corrections maintains records, but there isn’t an online database like other states have. To obtain inmate information, the state suggests that you call the Department of Corrections in Anchorage. The phone number can be found by clicking the link above.
Alaska court records
Alaska court records give people a chance to review court documents and proceedings. They’re created for both criminal and civil trials in district court, superior court, court of appeals, and supreme court.
What’s on a court record?
The information on a court record can be lengthy, but most people find the following public notices to be the most useful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can a person find Alaska court records?
- Resource: Alaska Court System
The Alaska Court System has a searchable database online that can provide information on appellate court cases and trial court cases. The best way to search for a case is to search by case number, but a search by name or citation number can also work.
Court records are often one of the more difficult records to access since most files are kept by individual courts. In many states, a request must be issued to a specific clerk of court, but in Alaska there’s a searchable database that makes it much easier to locate court documents.
Alaska vital records
Vital records are considered public records, although access is limited to people who are associated with the person listed on the record. For instance, if you’re trying to find a certified copy of a marriage certificate, you must be listed on the certificate or a family member of the person listed.
The same rules generally apply to other vital records, which include birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
To review a vital record, you’ll need to provide information to help the recorder’s office find the correct files. The information that you can expect to provide is:
- The registrant’s name
- Date of the event
- Time of the event
- Relationship to the requester
- Name of the presiding judge (for divorce or marriage records)
Where can a person find Alaska vital records?
- Resource: The Alaska Department of Social Services
The Alaska Department of Social Services Division of Public Health, which is equivalent to the department of health in other states, maintains vital records. (These records were formally maintained by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, but that changed recently). You can request certified copies of vital records by filling out an order form on the state government website listed above and mailing or faxing the request in.
Frequently asked questions about Alaska records
Obtaining public records can be a challenging task, but in the right direction, you can save time. The frequently asked questions below are designed to provide that direction.
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
In some states, only residents can request state documents, but that’s not the case in Alaska. The Alaska statutes specifically say that all citizens, even those from another state, can request public records.
Is there a records custodian in Alaska?
The public records law mentions a records custodian, but it’s usually a person within each state agency as opposed to one person.
What exemptions exist?
All state agencies must release public records as requested. However, the law does say that the Alaska Railroad Corporation is not considered a state agency and is therefore exempt from providing records.
Common exemptions like juvenile records, medical documents, and active investigations are exempt from the law. As are more specific records like those containing information on boat accidents, state savings programs, or trust programs.
How long does that state have to respond?
The law provides a specific response time. Public officials are to respond to a request within 10 business days. Some states don’t have a response time written into the law, but Alaska’s statute provides more specifics than others.
What kind of enforcement is in place?
The law states that no one is to obstruct the process of obtaining public records. If foul play is suspected, the person requesting the documents can seek an injunction. An injunction is a court order that would direct the record keeper to stop obstructing the process and to release the records.
Is there an appeal process?
While some states do not have an appeals process in place, the state of Alaska does. If a requester is denied access to public records or doesn’t receive them in a timely fashion, the person can appeal within 60 days of the original request.
An administrative appeal is sent to the head of the agency where the records are held. A request for injunctive relief, where a court orders the record keeper to stop obstructing your right to view public records, should be sent to an Alaskan district court.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
There are fees associated with accessing and copying records, but the cost to obtain requested records should be minimal, according to the law.