DOC reps talk about restoring commissary at prison
Representatives from the Department of Corrections were back at the Guam Legislature today. And the agency detailed their efforts to restore a commissary within the Mangilao compound.
"It seems like it's 'DOC Week'," quipped Senator Telo Taitague. And today might have been their lucky day, as Committee Chair on Public Safety Senator Pedo Terlaje says DOC just might get what they want, when it comes to reopening a commissary at the central prison.
"Most people that have talked to are in support of this particular bill 800 not only because it would create some kind of funding for the needs of doc but most importantly you mentioned it would restrict the influx of narcotics, not the Department of Corrections," he said.
The Department of Corrections first had a commissary for inmates back in 1993 but it was shutdown in 2015. "Due to issues with the vendors and other legal concerns DOE closed the commissary and reverted back to allowing family members to drop off incoming on a weekly bases," said Major Antone Aguon.
He added that this incoming process is labor intensive and opens the door to allowing contraband to enter the prison. "The reestablishment of a commissary within the adult correctional facility will better serve the prisoner population, decrease contraband redistribute the work load of staff , relieve the prisoners family of the unnecessary burden of looking for items that meets DOC's specifications and just basically improve the overall safety of the facility," he said.
Bill 182 would allow DOC to bring on board a vendor to lease space in the Mangilao compound to operate the commissary. Revenues from the contract would go to enhancing inmate welfare and may be used at the discretion of the Director. The idea is to have a cashless system, whereby families wouldn't even have to go to DOC to deposit money. There would also be a better system of accountability in terms of vendor and inmate transactions, something that wasn't done in the past.
"But DOC had no access to track the revenue," he said. "We didn't know what was coming in and that was our concern. So under this new proposal the vendor would be required to provide us these reports maybe annual or monthly and also our proposal requires that it be audited on a certain basis so that we know what money is coming in and making sure the profit the right percentage of money is coming to doc for its intended purposes."
Additionally, DOC would ensure that the vendor is subject to searches to ensure no contraband is coming in. At the end of the day the agency believes it not only would help relieve the stresses on manpower but closing the door to contraband.
Aguon said, "So my main thing is just to slow the contraband and decrease the workload of my visitation officers."
Senator Pedo Terlaje plans to include provisions that would require DOC to provide financial tracking reports as an added measure for accountability.