Legislation drafted to build new prison - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Legislation drafted to build new prison

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The overcrowding situation at the Department of Corrections has forced officials to pick-up discussion on building a new prison again. The current prison population and a decades old consent decree are making the construction of a new prison facility a growing necessity but finding the funding to build it is the biggest challenge.

Police Captain Mark Charfauros believes he's found some solutions to that.  Charfauros has been detailed to the corrections department for the last few months with the specific task of drafting legislation to build a new prison complete with funding sources to make it a $50 million reality. For decades the department has been under a consent decree requiring DepCor to upgrade its facility.

Charfauros says the Mangilao prison was only designed to house 200 inmates, but the current population is close to 600. Overcrowding, especially at the Hagatna Detention Facility - that houses local and federal detainees - has become an almost daily problem resulting in detainees having to be moved up to the Mangilao compound. "There are many problems with that kind of movement, however, we have no choice because of this. We already have several stakeholders who have been given copies of the draft legislation has its own funding source. They will not tap any existing funding source that is currently out there," he said.

Charfauros says the legislation he drafted identifies new funding sources.  Although he doesn't name them specifically, he says the new prison would come with a $50 million price tag and would not tap into the General Fund.  "This is a highly-secured facility," he explained. "We also have to consider that we have 20 prisoners that are currently being housed off-island. The problem that we're receiving is that our prisoners off island are becoming difficult to handle, meaning there are high security prisoners are saying Guam prisoners are a problem."

Charfauros says the department intends to bring stakeholders to the table before the legislation goes to lawmakers to fix any concerns before it goes up for a public hearing. Charfauros in the meantime has been given another task: identifying federal grants that are available for the Department of Corrections and drafting an apprenticeship program for corrections officers.

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