Guam – Prison Rights Advocate Diane Strong argues that the barbecue video that triggered the firing of DOC Director J.B. Palacios Wednesday raises serious questions about DOC policies and procedures.
Strong, who has been an out-spoken critic of Palacios and the way things are run at the prison, says that “the video shows indifference and collusion of the DOC warden” and that it was “not taken seriously by the Director.” She called the video “disrespectful to victims and their families” and says it “shows lack of diligence by some corrections officers.”
In reaction to the dissmissal of Palacios, Strong said : “Dedicated DepCor employees no longer have to suffer fear of retaliation. They can serve as the professionals they truly are. I have faith that reform can occur and rights of both inmates and employees will no longer be violated.”
Strong is also calling on the Co-Chair of the Committee on Law Enforcement and Public Safety, Lt. Governor-Elect Ray Tenorio to urge Committee Chairman Adolpho Palacios to call an oversight hearing on DOC.
In an email to PNC News Strong lists the following issues raised by the BBQ video:
(1) Failure of corrections officers to secure tools following a detail. An ax should not be present at a barbecue grill. The public should know that the policy during authorized visitation is that families and friends are not allowed to bring in plastic knives or chopsticks, and yet the inmates are shown with a meat cleaver, a large kitchen knife and an ax.
(2) If this was an authorized barbecue, why was the Warden unaware of it? Held on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009, he would have had to issue a written memorandum. If it was in appreciation for inmates public works projects (new Visitors Processing Center, Women’s Unit, etc.) WHY was the Director himself not present? .
(3) Why are inmates using bandanas – as Vince Palomo during his weight lifting routine? They are considered gang-related and are prohibited by inmate dress code.
(4) Why are inmates from 3 security classifications levels allowed together? This is a violation of TITLE 24 PENOLOGY AND CORRECTIONS
Chapter 1 Department of Corrections, Article 1 Administrative Provisions, 4 Classification of Inmates
(5) Why are laptops needed when the library has computers? DVD players are allowed. On a case-by-case basis, perhaps a laptop without a camera might be allowed for inmates with less restrictive security classifications?
(6) Where is the proof that the food at the barbecue was brought in from outside? Was it subject to inspection from the Visitor Processing Center? It looked like the inmates were preparing fresh chickens from the compound grounds, not frozen chicken donated by families and staff.
(7) The weight lifting equipment used by Vince Palomo was donated by the Marshals Service from the military expressly for use by DOC employees, and NOT inmates. This donation and its restrictions exist in a written document.
(8) The amount of food that becomes pig slop is evidence that the food service contract GSA-022-08 with California Mart (S.H. Enterprises) is wasting taxpayer money. The contract awarded on April 21, 2008, was $2,775,600. Cost is $2.85 for breakfast, $4.50 for lunch, and $5.50 for dinner x 600 inmates/day.
(9) The absence of corrections officers during the barbecue is not a function of the location of the “strategically hidden in plain sight” laptop. It is evidence of under-staffing and “over-time cap” policies.
(10) The lack of security raises the issue of how inmate Allen Feranco could have been murdered in May 2010. The caption thanking Vincent Palomo and co-murderer Steven Albertson for bringing the Peace to Post 24 is an insult to the widow and family of Feranco.
(11) The Feranco murder investigation needs to be re-opened and transparent. Only ONE corrections officer was interviewed by DOC’s Internal Affairs Unit and Palomo – in whose cell the murdered inmate was found – was never interviewed.
(12) The surrendering of authority by the Director of Corrections to Warden Crisostomo needs to be re-examined. Why is it that the Warden disapproves security re-classification recommendations made by the Adjustment Classification Committee? Palomo and his gang brothers are never demoted despite having been found guilty of infractions such as being intoxicated or fighting. Albertson is one example.
(13) How does an inmate like murderer Billy Cao Cruz have a “command post” inside a van which can obviously be used for illicit activities?