Prisoners shuffled as DOC overcrowding continues - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Prisoners shuffled as DOC overcrowding continues

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - With more arrests in the last few months, officials at the Department of Corrections fear facilities will double max capacity before the end of the year.

"As of today, we have 738+ people confined between the Mangilao and the Agana facility," noted agency spokesman Lieutenant Antone Aguon. "Almost 500 are detainees and about 230 or 240 are inmates.

And according to Aguon, these numbers are unacceptable as facilities max out at 440 persons.

A quick look at the Agana Detention Facility reveals two-man cells accommodating up to four people, this in addition to some detainees sleeping in the lobby on military like cots.

"We've always been overcrowded for a long time. Our numbers just continue to climb. Again its as a result of enforcement of GPD and other areas but we just continue to deal with what we've got we don't turn anybody away. We just take them in when they get arrested," he added.

As Aguon tells KUAM, it's an everyday battle to cope with overcrowding. But what makes matters worse? Separating co-defendants is a logistics nightmare.

"Right now we're just playing musical chairs with a lot of them. We're just moving them around. Then we have a lot of other issues like separation we have to keep a lot of people separated from each other because crime partners so we have inmates down here in Agana we have detainees here in Agana I have detainees in Mangilao. We're just shuffling people around trying to make room. Taking all these little issues into consideration. It's a daily challenges," he said.

Hoping to address DOC's growing population, Senator Brant McCreadie introduced Bill 172 back in August. The legislation not only seeks to construct a new state of the art prison, but would also maximize manpower, reduce overtime, and ensure safety of corrections staff, inmates, detainees and the public. Unfortunately however, the bill has sat in committee since receiving overwhelming support at a public hearing in December.

As author of the legislation, McCreadie addressed committee chair on appropriations Senator Ben Pangelinan earlier this week hoping to get a status report on the legislation.

"There's a lot of concerns. My first concern is with the prison industry itself and the infrastructure we have right now every day that we don't address this issue I believe it becomes a state of emergency and we're going to be looking at 800 prisoners within the next six to eight months and that poses an enormous problem not just for the safety of other inmates but the safety of the workers and the safety of the public," he said.

And while Bill 172 sits idle, DepCor officials anxiously await any form of assistance.

"As fast we move them if I move ten today we get about ten tonight getting arrested and coming in again," he said. "We're just trying to make due with what we got and hopefully we'll be able to get some help in the form of a new building or an expansion of the existing facility, more resources to help us deal with this influx."

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