Detainee hopes to prove DepCor's substandard jail conditions
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - District Court Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan will take a look at the living conditions of federal detainees for himself this week. A federal detainee took the stand today in hopes to convince the court that the Department of Corrections is providing inadequate living conditions at the Hagatna Detention Facility.
Julian Robles has asked to be released from custody pending his September 24 trial, alleging his Constitutional rights are being violated and the living conditions he is subjected to are substandard. Robles is charged with selling millions of dollars worth of crystal meth brought in from California over the last several years. Last year a series of search warrants resulted in the seizure of close to $2 million worth of the drug Ice. Robles pleaded not guilty and alleges there are inadequate conditions at the Hagatna Detention Facility where he and other federal detainees are held.
Attorney Howard Trapp today asked his client to detail many of his concerns. Robles testified that in the echo unit there were many times the 12 to 14 detainees wouldn't have toilet tissue for days. He also claims that he hasn't been able to get any medical attention for an injured ankle. Robles had complained about a toothache and received prescribed medicine but testified that he only decided to take the painkillers and not the other medicine that the doctor had prescribed.
The defendant has also taken issue with the leaky sinks and toilets in the unit and testified that at least 20 other federal detainees signed a petition complaining about the conditions at the facility.
While Robles complained that there is no air conditioning or ventilation in his current unit, Magistrate Judge Manibusan commented that many families on Guam do not use A/C and that it is a luxury. The judge also pointed out that Robles was given the opportunity to move to a different cell but refused because he did not want to be housed with a convicted sex offender. Manibusan told Robles he couldn't be choosey especially when DepCor was trying to alleviate his concerns. But Manibusan also questioned what specific conditions that Robles had raised were actually affecting him personally. The judge noted that Robles told the judge, "I will survive. I'm not asking to stay in the Hilton."
The judge granted the defense's request to make a visit of the facility with U.S. Marshals to see the conditions for himself.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karon Johnson opposed the request, asking the court not to spend any more time on Robles' request calling the defendant a "hypochondriac" with unfounded complaints. Manibusan ordered the marshals to help Robles see the doctor by tomorrow and the judge's visit of the jail is set for Thursday morning.