Bill to build new prison sits in committee
by Jolene Toves
Guam - While inmates at the Department of Corrections have a lot of time on their hands, the Government of Guam isn't as fortunate. One lawmaker is concerned about the continued delay on legislation introduced months ago to build a new prison to avoid possible action from the federal government.
Iit has been two months since legislation for a new prison was brought before the Committee on Appropriations headed by Senator Ben Pangelinan, and still no word on when a public hearing will be scheduled. "Two months is a long time for it to be in a committee, so I am hoping that he realizes the urgency that we have here when we forward think this ten, fifteen, twenty years from now we piecemealed that prison together for the last 40 years we just can't do it anymore," said Senator Brant McCreadie.
Hoping the legislation does not die in committee, the call for a new prison to be built has been 25 years in the making and as we have reported the Department of Corrections is struggling to house a growing prison population in a facility which has been utilizing the band aid approach shuffling resources in order to house inmates and detainees. But being overpopulated isn't the only concern - the longer the government waits to address the situation the more costly it will become.
"This is a big issue and its going to cost us like $80 million to build but in ten years - that $80 million is going to be $100 million, $200 million. The longer we wait the more we are behind the eight ball when it comes to cost and finance," Pangelinan said.
And that's not the only scary part, as he continued, "It's a big problem, it's a public safety problem and I think if we let it go any farther it going to be a huge nightmare on not just our public safety perspective but the economics and being federally received."
The need for a new facility has come to the forefront as DepCor and the government cannot afford to enter into federal receivership. Senator McCreadie says right now money from the General Fund is being appropriated yearly just keep the prison afloat.
On this quest for a new prison, Senator McCreadie has met with key players who have the expertise in building prisons. "We have had nothing but positive feedback we have had international companies fly here for two or three days take a tour of prison the interest is enormous when it comes to people who want to invest in that type of infrastructure," he said.
However, even with all the interest the legislation cannot proceed until it makes it out of committee.