DYA working to eliminate escapes
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Another escape from the Department of Youth Affairs has prompted the agency to beef up it policies to ensure it does not happen again. But residents living nearby are raising concern about the lack of supervision in the island's only youth correctional facility.
Mangilao resident Angela Duenas said, "Yes, I'm concerned because I got a child and we have elders living around the area and who knows that they can do," with Chris Wood adding, "My concern is less than the prison down the street, however its alarming that the facility- the staff its able to keep track of their guys."
Neighbors are frustrated with the fact that detention facility personnel are not doing their jobs. This after the Guam Police Department along with officers from DYA issued a release this morning that they are searching for a minor who escaped from the facility last night. Authorities say although two male teenagers escaped in the evening hours, the mother of one of the DYA clients brought him back to the facility early this morning, while the other teenager remains at large.
Agency Acting Director Pascual Artero says the escape occurred just before 10 o'clock last night, and that internal affairs will determine how they got out. "If the internal affairs goes on and after the preliminary investigation is done then we sit down and find out if there's anyone at fault or anything like that and then we go from there," said Artero. "It's something internal that we need to work on and solidify it so it doesn't happen again."
It was just a little over a week-and-a-half ago two other minors escaped from the Mangilao facility through an unsecured door and then scaled the perimeter fence. Artero admits it's possible these minors got out the same way, saying, "That is a strong possibility and like I said the internal affairs personnel is working on it right now."
He adds they will beef up their internal policy and procedures to ensure more supervision of the more than 60 clients the facility has today. A number he says is well over max capacity. "While overcrowding is an issue at the Mangilao facility; Artero admits it's not a contributing factor in this recent escape...our pop is actually high considering but of course we like to keep it low."
Wood is just one of the many residents that live near DYA. He admits the many issues he's heard about the agency and the Department of Corrections up the street has made him consider moving. "It's their responsibility to make sure these kids are under supervision and they're only going to escape if they're not under supervision, so that's alarming," he said.
Duenas, who lives just several feet from the front gate of DYA, shares her concern saying authorities need to inform residents sooner, as she experienced an escapee stealing clothes and a bike from her house in the past. "A couple months ago there was two escapees about ten o'clock at night. We just heard the dog barking and I never think of anything until the next day I received a phone call from DYA that there's been an escape, they came to my house and took some stuff, and I go, 'Whoa, I didn't even know that they took anything,'" she told KUAM News.
Meanwhile, a search for the second minor continues. The 17-year-old is described as Chamorro with a fair complexion, being 5'8", 145 lbs. with short black hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing government-issued black shorts and a white t-shirt. He was charged with violation of a court order relating to a beyond control offense.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Guam Police, DYA, or Guam Crimestoppers at 477-HELP (4357).