Inmates Reportedly Costing Guam Corrections $119 A Day

admin's picture

Entire criminal justice system ‘near breaking point’: senator

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Oct. 15, 2013) – It costs approximately $119 per day to feed and house an inmate at the facilities of the Department of Corrections (DOC), DOC Director Jose San Agustin said during yesterday’s roundtable meeting.

San Agustin said 23 years ago, DOC spent around $97 a day per inmate, or around $35,000 annually. The current amount of $119 a day per inmate is just an estimate, he added.

With an ongoing audit by the Office of Public Accountability, DOC is hoping to get a firmer number.

"Besides the $119 for inmates’ food and stay, it is difficult for me to budget for medical and other needs," San Agustin said.

Sen. Rory Respicio convened the roundtable, which focused on the deportation of convicted criminals who are on Guam under the terms of the Compacts of Free Association, or COFA.

Respicio said the agencies handling the rise in crime are struggling and the entire criminal justice system in Guam "is near the breaking point."

"DOC is our island’s only prison and it is over capacity, with a federal review ongoing regarding its ability to house inmates," Respicio said. "The provision I authored in P.L. 32-049 was designed to alleviate crowded conditions at our prison, and to provide some form of relief for our criminal justice system."

The corrections department was one of the agencies invited to the roundtable.

DOC facilities have local and federal detainees in a compound that consists of 16 different housing units. These housing units include the Adult Correctional Facility in Mangilao, Community Corrections Center in Mangilao, and the Hagåtña Detention Facility.

Overcrowding

Aside from the aging structures, the facilities have been plagued by issues of overcrowding.

San Agustin said they currently house 131 non-U.S. citizen detainees. Of this number, 116 are from the Federated States of Micronesia.

"Our community is well aware that crime is on the rise," Respicio said. "Many residents don’t feel safe in their own homes, and our criminal justice system can’t handle the load. There is no reason that this situation should continue at this level when the Compacts of Free Association already provide for the deportation of (Freely Associated States) citizens who are convicted criminals."

According to Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, since Public Law 32-049 was passed in July this year, 19 citizens who fall under the COFA have been convicted of crimes, allowing them to be deported. This includes 18 individuals convicted of misdemeanors and one convicted of a felony DUI crime.

Bordallo

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo submitted testimony expressing appreciation for Respicio's role in furthering the discussion on the issue and finding ways to reduce the burdens the COFA has placed on local resources.

Bordallo said she will encourage the U.S. Department of Interior- Office of Insular Affairs to work with the Department of State and the Department of Justice to develop an inter-governmental agreement with the Freely Associated States (FAS) to allow its citizens convicted of crimes on Guam to serve out their sentence in their country of origin.

"I appreciate that local policymakers have codified in Guam law a process for which law enforcement will report to federal entities those who are convicted in Guam's courts and would be eligible for removal from the U.S," Bordallo said.

Bordallo said she will also work with the Judiciary of Guam and local law enforcement agencies to ensure procedures are followed in reporting and turning over individuals who are convicted of a deportable offense to the appropriate federal entities.

"Entry into the U.S. via the Compacts is a privilege granted to FAS citizens as part of our country's bilateral agreement with the FAS. Entry into the U.S. is primarily to improve education, job opportunities, and healthcare access for FAS citizens," Bordallo said.

However, when individuals abuse this privilege by violating federal or local laws, Bordallo said it may be necessary to remove such individuals from the U.S. in order to ensure the intent of the COFA is fulfilled and that local governments are not negatively impacted.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment