Minority Leaders Wil Castro on Tuesday urged the Department of Corrections to explore a possible partnership with other jurisdictions and the federal government to build a regional penitentiary.
Castro said Tuesday’s public hearing on DOC’s budget request revealed that the department does not have a master plan to address the looming crisis facing Guam’s correctional system.
According U.S. Bureau of Justice's statistics, Guam's correctional facilities had a population of 628 inmates and detainees in 2017.
“It is difficult to know what direction you’re going when there isn’t a way forward without clear goals, objectives, actions required, and timelines. New revenue generating ideas and/or cost recovery strategies are needed,” Castro said
The Republican senator noted that Guam’s jail and prison are overpopulated by 40 percent.
“Under these conditions, inmates not appropriately classified in relation to the severity of their crimes and not confined in appropriate housing units creates unsafe conditions,” Castro said. “This is problematic and correctional programs are further compromised.”
He said building a new regional penitentiary in partnership with two or more jurisdictions and the federal government, will provide greater public safety while alleviating financial pressure on the government of Guam.
“It holds promise for developing local capacity, opportunities for shared funding and may mitigate risk of escape and the smuggling of contraband into the prison,” Castro said. “A new and modern facility may also best serve prisoner rehabilitation programs such as a prison crafts industry and education programs.”
To subsidize the cost of additional jail operations, Castro suggested establishing “administrative fees, pay-for-stay fees and securing a percentage of revenues from asset forfeitures” as revenue-raising strategies.