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GovGuam disagrees with report on prison

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - The state of the island's only prison continues to raise red flags not only for local leaders, but the federal government as well.

A scathing report filed on Monday with the District Court gave DepCor poor marks when it came to medical and mental health care.

Today, GovGuam chimes in and gives their response.

It appears GovGuam doesn't agree with the court monitor's poor ratings of DepCor.

In GovGuam's response filed with the District Court today, GovGuam claims the conclusions in court monitor Attorney Bradley Klemm's report weren't supported and requests more specifics.

As we reported last night, the feds responded to Klemm's findings from May 6.

In the report, the feds note that although they have been trying to work with GovGuam to bring DepCor into compliance with the settlement agreement signed back in 1991, that's not the case, "instead it appears that the territory continues to operate in a reactive mode, perpetually responding to the latest crisis rather than following any plan calculated to provide access to care for inmates."

As a result of Monday's report, the Justice Department went as far as requesting the judge require the government to produce and adopt a written plan outlining DOC's medical, dental, and mental health care needs and objectives and commit to a process and timeline in which to achieve them.

In GovGuam's court filing, the AG's Office maintains it's done just that - providing updates to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the court's monitor through bi-weekly conference calls and have worked to continue to do so.

GovGuam's response today also outlines how DepCor has hired a third full-time nurse, a records clerk, and is in the process of hiring 48 additional corrections officers - 11 of which are scheduled to commence training this month.

While the federal and local government may not see eye to eye on discussions of DepCpr, Senator Brant McCreadie believes this could be the tipping point that lands DepCor in the hands of federal receivership - what he says could unnecessarily cost GovGuam millions but hopes can be averted through the construction of a new prison.

"I think now is the time that we need to move forward and build a new facility and show the federal government that we do have a plan to build a new prison because it has to deal with public safety not just inside the prison walls and the guards and their families but outside the prison walls as well," he said.

In a letter addressed to Governor Eddie Calvo on Monday, the senator notes a law established back in 2005 could assist the governor with beginning the prison reconstruction process. "The good news is that we found a mandate that was enacted in 2005. it's the Public Safety Construction Initiative Act of 2005. We wrote a letter to the governor who we have a great working relationship with asking him if we can move forward in constructing a new prison," he said.

According to the senator, the law authorizes GovGuam on behalf of public safety agencies or the agency themselves, to enter into lease agreements of existing structures or agreements to design, finances, and construct a facility based on lease-back terms.

"I think in the long run we absolutely need a new prison. We are paying for the current department of corrections as taxpayers and we aren't getting anything in return. We're basically throwing money down a black hole," he said.
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