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REPORT: JIC ignores reported concerns on inhumane conditions at prison

By Nancy I. Maanao

(Tumon, Guam) The Governor's Office, which Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio said was committed to transparency, still hasn't answered questions about, well, a lot of things. But for purposes of this story, we'll keep the growing list short to three question we asked the Governor's Office and the Joint Information Center 13 days ago:

  1. Explain the staffing situation at the department of corrections - why are some corrections officers working overtime when newly recruited officers are able to fill the schedule without DOC incurring OT costs?

  2. Why haven’t DOC inmates and detainees been tested for COVID-19?

  3. Why aren’t DOC detainees and inmates being provided cleaning supplies to disinfect their quarters?

According to several inmates and detainees who have called Kandit News, none of the residents of the Mangilao facility have been tested for COVID-19. Some of them were exposed to a Corrections officer, who tested positive for the Coronavirus.

The prison management also has stopped accepting hand deliveries of hygiene supplies for inmates from family members, and have not provided any hygiene products or cleaning supplies to the residents. The prison is requiring incoming supplies to be mailed, which costs money at a time when most families of the residents are unable to afford the price of mail.

The lack of cleaning supplies has led to deplorable conditions within the Mangilao compound, according to inside sources.

"We've been sharing one gallon of liquid soap to wash ourselves, and we're all using as little as possible because it's almost all gone," one source told Kandit 14 days ago. "They also cut the amount of food we get in half."

The matter has been brought to the attention of the prison's warden, who has yet to answer to the situation for the past two weeks.

Kandit asked the Joint Information Center about the situation 13 days ago. Neither the JIC nor the Governor's Office has answered the inquiry. Nic Rupley, who answered the phone at the JIC, told Kandit last week that he was personally unaware of any communication between the JIC and the director, deputy director, or warden of the prison.

That was when we decided to send a Freedom of Information Act request for emails showing whether either governor's communications director Janela Carrera, spokeswoman Krystal Paco-San Agustin, or civil defense spokeswoman Jenna Blas have at least communicated the questions to prison leadership.

Did they even care?

Ms. Blas answered the FOIA one day after it was submitted, telling Kandit she has no email correspondence with prison leadership from the time we made our original inquiry 13 days ago.

Today, both Ms. Carrera and Ms. Paco-San Agustin responded to the FOIA. Neither of them even asked either the prison director, deputy director, or the warden about the matter.

The documents that were disclosed include pictures of the swearing in of 35 DOC recruits, and documents indicating two businesses donated PPEs to the prison. The prison received 6,500 face masks in total, according to the documents.

The prison was on the brink of a federal receivership following three decades of monitoring for failure to provide humane conditions for its inmates and detainees, and an environment that kept prisoners safe, and the public safeguarded from escape.

The federal court order was lifted in the final year of the Calvo administration.

The provision of medical care, adequate nutrition, and clean facilities are among the rights inmates and detainees have, and for which the U.S. Department of Justice sanctioned the Guam Department of Corrections for failing to provide for decades.

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