Guam Judge Orders Dismissal Of 25-Year-Old Consent Decree Over Prison Conditions

Federal Dept of Justice to end oversight over local Dept of Corrections

By Jasmine Stole 

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 12, 2017) – [UPDATE: 10 a.m., April 13] U.S. District Court Chief Judge Tydingco Gatewood ordered the dismissal of a 25-year-old consent decree between the federal government and Department of Corrections.

Tuesday, a joint motion to dismiss the settlement agreement, which would end to the consent decree, was signed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice and attorney general of Guam.

“Guam’s compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement means inmates and detainees are more likely to be housed in cleaner and safer conditions, and that they will have adequate access to vital health care services," Shawn Anderson, Acting U.S. attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, said in a statement.

Original story follows:

Following a joint motion to dismiss the longstanding consent decree filed Tuesday, the Department of Corrections was put on notice for its fire protection system after an inspection revealed discrepancies.

The Guam Fire Department inspected the prison Wednesday. Code enforcers  issued a notice of hazard, according to Joey Manibusan, fire marshal and chief of fire prevention.

The prison is aware of the fire alarm issues, Manibusan said.  DOC officers conduct fire watch duties, which were implemented before Wednesday’s inspection. The prison also is working on a purchase order for fire alarm maintenance and repairs, Manibusan said.

Government and non-government establishments are required to maintain their fire protection systems in accordance with the fire code, Manibusan said.

Part of the 1991 settlement agreement states the prison was to improve fire safety and sanitation. By April 1992, an automatic sprinkler system had to be installed. The prison also was ordered to install a fire alarm system with smoke detectors, the agreement states

Alberto Lamorena, DOC executive director, said in his nine months as the director he couldn't recall if the fire alarm system had been tested. He didn't know when the next test was scheduled. When asked if the fire protection system worked, Lamorena said DOC will be testing the system.

Lamorena said if the prison fire system needs work, the prison will repair it. There’s a sprinkler system and the prison is checking to see if everything is operational, Lamorena said.

“You’re dealing with an antiquated system, ... so if you’re not testing them constantly, we have to check. But the last time it was looked at, it was functioning,” Lamorena said. “We’re not quite sure when that was done.”

In 2015, Judge Alex Munson issued a court order for two outstanding issues: the prison's electronic locking system; and its health care policies.

The medical care at the prison is provided by Guam Memorial Hospital staff, established through a memorandum of understanding, Lamorena said. The electronic locking systems should be installed by the end of the year, court documents state.

Pacific Daily News
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