Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Mar. 21) - The escape of three prisoners from the Department of Corrections’ maximum security facility raises some very troubling questions that require thorough investigation.

Department of Corrections officials say a head count is taken every half hour in the maximum security facility, in which every prisoner is locked away in his own cell for 23 hours a day. So how were three separate prisoners, locked in three separate cells, able to break out of those cells, then the building, and then escape the grounds?

DOC Director Robert Camacho said there is an internal investigation into the escape. There is a possibility that some of the standing operating procedures weren't followed, he said, which contributed to the escape. Obviously there was a significant breach in operating procedures at the facility that permitted these three dangerous individuals to escape.

It is clear that a detailed investigation is needed to answer the questions and pinpoint the problems. Then, the problem areas must be properly addressed to prevent future escapes. Furthermore, the results of this investigation, including the solutions to the identified problems, need to be open and transparent to the public.

Also, there needs to be a clear explanation as to why it took so long for information about the escape, including photographs of the escapees, to be given to the media in a timely manner, where it could then be disseminated to the public.

The escape of three very dangerous felons is a critical public safety issue. The community needs to be made aware of any escape from the prison immediately. Delaying such an announcement, for any reason, is irresponsible and jeopardizes the safety of each and every citizen.

Public safety officials need to explain why the alert wasn't issued earlier and what steps are being taken to ensure that the delay in informing the public isn't repeated in the future.

March 22, 2005

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