DepCor can’t afford to construct new prison - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DepCor can’t afford to construct new prison

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - A lack of money. Simply put, it's the only reason why the Department of Corrections can't construct a new prison facility that is needed. The lack of funding has the department pinching pennies simply to maintain the facility as it is now.

Overcrowding and inadequate facilities that meet federal regulations are both reasons why DepCor has been under a federal court order for more than two decades.  They were also the reasons why the agency began plans for the construction of a new prison.  While the previous director had gone as far as putting out a request for interest to find companies who would be willing to finance and construct the new prison, DepCor director Jose San Agustin says that's no longer an option.

"At this point there is no definite plan to do a rebuild or do a new prison facility," he explained.

The Mangilao compound and the Hagatna Detention Facility were built in the mid-60's, making them more than 50 years old. While the Hagatna facility was upgraded in the 90's for federal detainees, both facilities are in dire need of a facelift. As Governor Eddie Calvo mentioned in his State of the Island Address, he wants to revamp Hagatna - meaning moving DepCor's building out of the capital.

"I'm sure he's got ideas and plans to address the move of that facility to probably one location up at Mangilao, but yet I am not privileged to be provided that information. I know that they want to make Haganta a more visitor/customer-like base location," he stated.

San Agustin and his staff have been working just to keep the facilities livable, adding, "We are doing a lot of improvements though, retrofitting of air conditioners and also going out and just trying to get materials such as mason material and to go out and continue to maintain the facility to make it a more suitable place for people to live."

He also calls on help from private businesses to partner with the agency to help with supplies to maintain the prison, at least until the agency can get a workable budget. He said, "It would be nice if in the near future that I am able to acquire more funding so that it could bring in more programs to DOC and address the needs and rehabilitation of individuals that are incarcerated and getting ready to be released."

According to news files, the previous DepCor director told KUAM News the proposed site for the new prison was at Fadian Point in Mangilao. Attempts were also made in the past to have the Department of Defense pay for a new prison in preparation for the military buildup. 

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