April 3, 2014
Press Release, Alaska District Attorney’s Office
On April 2, 2014, 27 year old James Coven was sentenced for assaulting a correctional officer while imprisoned at the Anchorage Jail Complex. Coven’s assault caused multiple fractures to the officer’s jaw, a fractured nose, multiple broken teeth, and a concussion.
The incident arose when the correctional officer denied Coven’s request to make a phone call and ordered Coven back to his cell. Instead of going back to his cell, Coven punched the officer in the head, causing the officer to fall to the ground. Coven then repeatedly kicked the officer until other officers arrived. The officer had to be taken to the hospital and treated for multiple injuries.
Coven was previously convicted of a double homicide in 2012 and was serving out his 199 year sentence when the assault occurred.Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sen Tan sentenced Coven to serve 19 years in prison. Coven’s attorney argued that the sentence should have been mitigated because Coven’s conduct was not as serious as other similar assaults. Judge Tan declined to mitigate Coven’s sentence. The Court explained that the sentence was necessary to deter other prisoners from assaulting correctional officers. Coven told the Court that he was already being punished for his assault on the officer because he was serving his sentence in segregation.
SCN note: ( In October 2012, a longtime corrections officer working at Spring Creek Correctional Center also was badly injured in an attack. The officer and two of the inmates were taken by ambulance to Seward Providence Medical & Care Facility for treatment the same evening with stab wounds. The officer was fired soon after, reportedly for carrying a knife into the facility against regulations, and which he subsequently used to ward off the attack by a group of inmates. )