The Department of Corrections has moved 45 detainees from the Hagåtña Detention Facility.
According to DOC’s Major Antone Aguon, moving the detainees was in the works even before the complaints of inhumane and unconstitutional living conditions at the HDF surfaced.
Local detainees were being moved from the Hagåtña Detention Facility since last Thursday. Aguon said this was done to alleviate overcrowding.
“The Hagåtña Detention Facility should really only have around 130 population. At the time, it was probably around 165 give or take. It went as high as 180,” Aguon said.
Aguon says the move was not in response to the federal inmates filing a complaint in district court citing overcrowding as a contributing factor to the inhumane living conditions.
But he also acknowledged that moving the 45 detainees takes some of the heat off the department. But he stressed that addressing the overcrowding at HDF was in the works even before the lawsuit.
“We were always trying to move these people up, we just didn’t have the beds at the time. So we were already working with the National Guard before the complaint even came up in court. Our main issue was we didn’t have beds … we didn’t have enough bunk beds or beds for the prisoners so we worked with the National Guard and we were able to acquire, on temporary loan about 100 military cots,” Aguon said.
Now that they have the cots, a third dome housing unit has been opened for use and is now housing 42 of the 45 detainees transferred from HDF.
Aguon says that staffing has also been shifted and several correctional officers from HDF have been assigned to the Mangilao compound to oversee the newly opened dome unit and prisoners.
“So right now, that dome that we just opened up has 42 people in there. The other two domes have 36 and 35,” Aguon said.
Detainees held for contempt of court or violations are generally transferred from HDF if their court-ordered stay has them confined for several days. This is done to make space for new confinees.
Aguon says that as of today, Monday, Feb. 17, there are 63 local detainees and 67 federal inmates/detainees for a total population of 130 at HDF.
Relocating the 45 detainees has freed up space at the HDF. As a result, some federal inmate/detainees were moved from Alpha block to other parts of the Agana Lockup. Aguon said This also allowed for some of the issues raised in the lawsuit to be addressed.
“Right now, we have our maintenance crew down at the detention facility doing some plumbing, electrical, lighting, painting, and general repairs down there,” Aguon said.
Aguon says DOC has met with the US Marshals as directed by District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood. He says they are working on addressing issues brought to their attention in a timely manner.
However, Aguon pointed out that not all the issues at the facilities are under the control of DOC, saying that at times the issues are caused by inmates tampering with the facility infrastructure such as the plumbing.