Attorney General Applies Stricter Guidelines To DOC’s Work Release and Education Programs

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Guam – The Office of the Attorney General applies stricter guidelines to the Department of Correction’s inmate work release and education programs. Recently DOC’s programs have been under fire when an inmate who was on work detail allegedly burglarized a school.

The Office of the Attorney General recently issued guidance to the Department of Correction involving inmates participating in the DOC work release and education programs within our community, outside the confined walls of the prison.

The new guide lines now gives DOC  clear interpretation of which inmates are allowed to participate in this DOC program. DOC’s Acting Director Frank Cristosomo feels over the past 20 years, Guam’s Attorney Generals may have interpreted public law 19-06 differently.  Cristosomo says the legal opinion signed by former Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco back in June, now applies to all prisoners confined in Guam’s Correction Facilities, regardless of their sentencing date.

Cristosomo says, “That was not the case at one time. So this one here is cut and dry, it means it affects any individual here regardless if they have been sentenced in 1971. They can not participate based on this legal opinion.”

Cristosomo says this program is not for inmates who committed serious crimes such as aggravated assault or murder. He further adds this program is an inmate privilege not a right. Since Limtaco’s  ruling, 26 inmates had to be re-evaluated and out of the 26, four inmates were restricted and removed from this program.

In the past, several crimes were committed while inmates were in the work release program. According to Senator Adolpho Palacios, some of the crimes include robbery and rape.

Palacios says. “It’s not uncommon or surprising that people took advantage of the system. He says when they were out there, they would size up a place, they would divert from a work release assignment, sneak out for a hour, go there, rob it and then go back to their job. When they return to their work they have a good alibi because they were under the supervision of their boss.”

Palacios says the system needs a very thorough screening process, but at the same time there needs to be better supervision and maybe include a monitoring device, if the inmates is out of the range it will alerts DOC .

Cristosomo says at one time inmates who were apart of the program could be transported and escorted by a mayor, who is considered  a peace officer. Now that’s no longer permitted. Cristosomo says he has ordered extra security mechanisms in place.

Cristosomo adds, for those individuals who qualify for this program, it will help them later in life.

Frank Cristosomo, “If these people are currently working, eventually if they are released they will still have work. If they are attending education and obtain a degree, it will help them try to secure a job in the community. Those are the type of issues that can help the people that are currently attending the program.”

According to Senator Palacios, the few that violate the program could put hardship on those inmates who really contribute to the community.

Palacios says, “There has to be complete supervision, because if one crime is committed by one inmate that is in the program, it is not worth the benefit we stand to gain from the contribution of labor.”