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Senators to tour prison Wednesday

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - With legislation that will be introduced for the construction of a new prison, the Department of Corrections believes the construction of a new facility is long time coming.   Spokesperson Lt. Antone Aguon has been with the agency for close to two decades and through the years the agency has had to make do with controlling the ever growing detainee and inmate population.

"We only were build for 300 people.   Right now we're at 700, so we've had to reconvert some of the class rooms and but beds in them to house these the population," he said. "Out of the 700 over 480 of them are detainees, meaning they're still going though their case so they're not actually found guilty yet the other 200 some are inmate where their cases are done and serving their sentence.  A majority of ours are detainees."

Lt. Aguon says by building a new prison it would allow doc to properly house the inmates and detainees as well as allow the agency to be more cost effective in terms of the distribution of manpower and upkeep of facilities. "The plumbing, the maintenance and things like that is costing us just to keep it going and of course the overcrowding," he said.

Senator Brant McCreadie will be introducing legislation to construct a new prison. The measure will likewise include provisions addressing staffing, inmate productivity and rehabilitation.  McCreadie along with other senators are scheduled to tour the Mangilao compound on Wednesday.

Although DOC is hoping the bill will be enacted into law they recognize the government has other priorities. According to Lt. Aguon however at some point something must be done.

"There's a lot of support for a new prison and most people understand why we need a new prison. But a lot has to do with funding identifying the money and with the limited resources in the government and you make a decision between education and other areas of the government and the prison.  So right now a lot of it has been toward other areas as a result of the years and years of bypassing DOC its come to the point now where we have no choice. But to get the money to build a new prison to do something that will help address our population," he said.

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