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Greater accountability demanded for Guam prison

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It's been one thing after another - everything from faulty locking systems, unsatisfactory meals and medical care to contraband prison escapees. This series of events has left legislators asking for greater accountability at our island's only prison facility.

It was just last month that inmate Francisco Arias sued Department of Corrections officials for violating his Eighth Amendment rights by not providing him with proper and timely medical care. According to arias, prison officials failed to refill his medications, worsening an infection in his toe which left it permanently disfigured. However the issue of medical care at the prison dates back over two decades.

The Department of Justice sued the Government of Guam regarding civil rights violations, which led to a 1991 consent decree ordering the prison to address medical, mental health, and dental care issues.

Senator Brant McCreadie took a tour of DOC's infirmary this morning, saying, "The tour was very interesting, I scheduled it this morning because I wanted to see for myself what the infirmary has done."

Dr. Johnny Wu, director of medical services for correctional managed health care at the University of Connecticut is a consultant aiding the Government of Guam. "We had a meeting last week with Dr. Wu and the Attorney General's Office and some of the other local stakeholders that's involved in trying to get us out of that consent decree with the federal government, and so the infirmary was number one on their list," he explained.

According to Senator McCreadie, his tour of the infirmary yielded positive results, and work at the infirmary seems to be on track. He told KUAM News, "First and foremost we have to get that black cloud of federal receivership out from under and I think we're making progress and some headway there, so we have a target date of September, and we're on that target ."

However there are several other looming issues, the most pressing of which was how a recent escapee - Meisy Aliwis - was able to escape unnoticed from the prison for roughly three days. McCreadie says this puts DOC processes as well as the safety of the community in question. He held an oversight hearing this afternoon to discuss the issue in depth with legislators.

"Whether it's hiring people, whether it's feeding people, and whether it's making sure your perimeters are safe and secure so the community is safe, I think we need to be more consistent every day in making sure our job is complete," he said.

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