Guam prison population to exceed 600 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam prison population to exceed 600

 by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Over the last several years, government officials have discussed the idea of building a new, much larger, state of the art correctional facility to house the island's detainees and inmates.  But the prison population is growing much larger than the original facility was intended to hold, leaving the department to be creative in making more room.

By the end of the year, the Department of Corrections expects its detainee and inmate population to exceed 600.  The increase in population hasn't been easy to accommodate at the Hagatna Detention Facility that houses federal and local pre-trial detainees and at the Mangilao Compound that houses prisoners. DepCor spokesperson Lieutenant Antone Aguon says as a result of the increasing population that is currently peaked at 590, the agency had to make more room. "We've opened up more housing units and of course that's caused us a much larger manning requirement. And with our shortage of personnel we currently have about 31 correction officers positions from supervisor to COI, We have about 31 vacancies right now," he explained.

What's made matters worse is that the department lost nearly a dozen high-ranking officers to retirement in the last two years leaving less than 200 officers to look after nearly 600 detainees and inmates.  If an early retirement program is offered, Aguon says DepCor stands to lose another ten officers. 

While stateside correctional facilities have 5-7 inmates or detainees for each officer, on Guam it's nearly double - between 11-12 per officer, making it a bigger challenge for officers like Jimmy Green. "And with the overcrowding and the new crime that is happening nowadays and we have a lot of recidivists.  The population is growing but the facility is at the same size it was 10 years ago," he stated.

Green says the officers have learned to make do with what they have but the department needs a bigger facility. But without the funding to see that happen anytime soon, the department is shifting detainees as the Hagatna Detention Facility is maxed-out and shouldn't hold anymore than 120 detainees at any given time.

"We have to keep Agana at certain numbers and once it reaches certain level we transport the overflow into Mangilao," he said.
 
Lt. Aguon says the Mangilao facility is also overcrowded as well by more than 200 inmates so officials have had to open up some areas of the prison that aren't necessarily designated to house inmates. He told KUAM News, "Some of the housing units that we're using we really shouldn't be used for housing them but we do our best to renovate them and do maintenance and make best with what we have. But if we had our choice of course we wouldn't be using it."

And with the growing population, officials are also looking at building additional housing units on the current compound.
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