ATTEMPTED PRISON ESCAPE THWARTED ON GUAM

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Facility under partial lockdown for investigation

By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 3, 2009) - Corrections officials continue to investigate how contraband was able to get into the most restrictive area of Guam's prison and whether corrections staff played a role in a thwarted jailbreak.

The Department of Corrections on Monday foiled an alleged plan for prisoners to break out of the Mangilao compound after officials received a tip. DOC officials also confiscated cellular phones, a sharpened piece of metal, a Swiss Army knife and a makeshift knife because of the tip, said DOC Director J.B. Palacios.

The corrections facility remains on partial lockdown, which means family visits, library privileges, classes and phone calls are more strictly limited. The maximum security unit, from where at least two prisoners planned to escape, remains on total lockdown, Palacios said.

Palacios on Monday said inmate Frank Pangelinan, a convicted murderer, was the alleged mastermind behind the alleged scheme. The director said Pangelinan will be transferred to a federal penitentiary because he is too dangerous to be allowed to stay on Guam.

Pangelinan, who is serving a life sentence for a 1998 murder, escaped from the DOC facility with two other inmates in 2005. They were caught after a weeklong chase around the island.

Palacios said he's waiting for a response from the federal Bureau of Prisons as to where and when Pangelinan can be transferred. It would cost about $7,500 to have two officers escort the inmate off island, Palacios said.

More than two dozen local inmates are locked in federal prisons, as part of an agreement DOC has with the federal prison bureau.

The corrections department is still investigating how many prisoners were part of the plan to escape on June 14, when a scheduled change of corrections officers could've provided an opportunity.

Pangelinan and another high security inmate, Bruno Simmons, were found with cell phones in their prison cell. Pangelinan was also found with a flat, sharpened piece of metal that could've been used as a weapon or to pick a lock, Palacios said.

Knife found

He said officers also found a makeshift knife possessed by another inmate.

"It was a rusted roofing nail -- about three inches -- attached to a cardboard. It was found and confiscated after the initial tip," Palacios said.

The department's Internal Affairs Division is looking into who may have communicated with the prisoners who were found with the cell phones. The department also is investigating if any corrections officers were involved or which officers, if any, were negligent in their duties.

"We already have policies in place," Palacios said. "It doesn't matter how many prisoners we have, how many officers we have. What matters is that somebody did not do their job."

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