Senator Amanda Shelton has introduced Bill 244-35 (LS) which seeks to appropriate $200,000 from the unappropriated general fund balance from fiscal year 2019 to the Department of Youth Affairs (DYA).
According to Shelton, her bill was introduced in conjunction with Bill 243-35 (LS) introduced by Sen. Joe S. San Agustin as these bills would appropriate funds to be used to reclassify officers at the DYA from Youth Service Workers to Youth Correction Officers as well as provide them with additional training to better serve the juveniles in their care.
Shelton said Youth Service Workers (YSW) serve a crucial role in Guam’s corrections system and these employees at DYA handle youth offenders, with cases ranging from status violations to felonies.
Under the law, the Department of Youth Affairs is mandated to house the Youth Correctional Facility and Youth Service Workers are their de facto correction officers subjected to similar conditions and dangers as other corrections officers.
According to Shelton, corrections agencies have been strained for resources and training, and DYA is no exception. DYA has seen an increased rate of juvenile recidivism (64.5% in 2017 according to the most recent available data).
The senator said Bills 243 and 244 would also provide the new Youth Correctional Officers with additional training to provide the disciplinary structure and emotional care that juveniles need to rehabilitate.