by Nick Delgado
Guam - The Inmate Advisory Committee is speaking out about the many allegations that have surfaced about what's been happening inside the Department of Corrections' Mangilao facility. It's a council either elected or appointed from within the Adult Correctional Facility, responsible for gathering complaints from inmates and presenting it to DepCor officials to be resolved.
Inmate Maryann Palomo is on that committee, and has been behind bars for the past 15 years. She's serving a life sentence. "There has been a lot of information that is completely exaggerated, erroneous that we feel came from staff members who where hearing rumors or who probably passed it on to somebody that exaggerated it," she told KUAM News.
A couple of those alleged exaggerated information include a death threat letter that was found this past March, as well as the murder of inmate Alen Feranco back in May.
While activist Dr. Dianne Strong raised concerns about the privileges for the inmates in the area where the murder occurred being restored before those in the area of the death threat, inmate Dan Turner feels that the proper steps are being taken. "They are being locked down, which Dr. Strong stated in her letter that's actually the normal type of confinement that they have to deal with in that unit." He added, "Everybody was reviewed by the Adjustment Classification Committee to determine their suitability to remain in the Minimum Security Unit."
Palomo adds the committee has also not been notified of any allegations that Strong or anyone else has raised, noting, "There's really nothing that we know of that was left unanswered, unaddressed and rectified for a prolonged period where it would lead to inhumane conditions in the department, and I am trying to speak for everybody."
"They have never brought these issues to us," Palomo continued. "Even though they are not allowed to physically participate in our meetings, they do have the avenue of corresponding with us."
Yet both Turner and Palomo do admit there are several issues, such as the slow response time for medical needs. "A lot of the things that go on here or the problems that are occurring have a lot to do with short staff, underbudget issues," Palomo speculated.
While the inmates appreciate Dr. Strong's efforts, they say they have never received any communication from her regarding Constitutional rights violations. Meanwhile, in response, Dr. Strong says the Inmate Advisory Council is illegal, as it must get approval from the governor. She adds that DepCor has not gone through the Administrative Adjudication Act process required to establish or change any rules of the government.
She adds that the Council is supposed to be comprised of representatives from the community, and not inmates.