Federal detainees say they're not being fed adequately - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Federal detainees say they're not being fed adequately

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - Constipation. Exhaustion. Irritability. Dizziness. Weakness. And drastic weight loss. The list goes on.

A petition filed by federal detainees is heard this morning as four of the 29 petitioners weigh in on what's really being served on their plates.

735 pounds of weight loss. You would think it was an episode of the biggest loser.

In reality, it's the total amount of weight loss among 29 men being held at the Hagatna Federal Detention Facility in the last year.

The men recently signed a petition requesting for a hearing before Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood as they called the food services provided by the Department of Corrections vendor "deplorable and unacceptable."

For Justin Taisipic, he's lost 20 pounds since December 2014. Taisipic reported today that food often arrives late with no explanation or dinner served too early leaving the men with hunger pains throughout the night.

What's worse? What's on the plate is either not enough or lacks nutritional value and a sizable amount of protein. Taisipic was joined by fellow petitioners Rodney Malaca, Vernon Dulei, and Vincent Cruz.

The men brought to court with them a lunch from Friday and Saturday. Friday's menu consisted of fried rice, mandarins, and what appeared to be radish or turnip salad.

Saturday's lunch was macaroni salad with small cubes of meat, 2 slices of fruit, and the same radish/turnip salad.

In order to bring the samples to court, the men admitted they had to share with their cellmate over the weekend to keep the two meals for evidence. The hearing even took a break to allow the men to eat as they admitted going without breakfast this morning because it didn't arrive before they were required to appear in court.

Petitioners also state they've gone as far as saving the bones from chicken drumsticks to heat up for later to chew on...and saving orange peels to heat up and eat as chips.

Because of the inadequate food, Taisipic says his health has been compromised. Prior to his arrest, he suffered from pelvic, spine, and nerve damage. He reports submitting multiple sick calls but has only seen the doctor twice and prescribed Motrin. Taisipic states today "all this inadequate nutrition is contributing to my slow recovery."

But it doesn't stop there. The petitioners report food is often spoiled, improperly stored and handled, and on occasion come with unwanted hair or flies.

Although their attorney federal public defender Leilani Lujan says possible remedies include reinstating the commissary at the Hagatna Detention Facility and allowing families to bring in supplemental food for snacks, many of the men still wouldn't have access to enough food as many come from indigent families.

Instead, Lujan reminded the court that the men are entitled to nutritious meals at least three times a day.

Following the hearing, the chief judge taste tested today's lunch - what she described as rice with corn, ground beef, cabbage with vinegar, and fruit.

"The third thing is a peach - that tastes the best."

The judge noted the food was unseasoned and a limited portion.

She asked the parties to take action stating "these detainees are preparing for a lawsuit. I don't think it's necessary."

Meanwhile, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson noted work will be done to promptly address the matter.

A followup hearing is set for June 24.
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