Corrections official: Number of inmates increasing

THE number of inmates at the Department of Corrections has significantly increased, according to acting Commissioner Vincent Attao who is asking lawmakers to increase his department’s budget.

During the House budget hearing on Monday afternoon, Attao said they have 111 Corrections officers but there are around 250-270 inmates, adding that there was a sudden increase in the past four or five months. He said they used to have a total of 163 inmates.

Their biggest issue right now is the lack of funding, he said, adding that they need to hire at least 18 additional Corrections officers.

Attao said they also need to hire professionals such as a counselor, a physician and nurses.

The department received a $4.5 million budget for fiscal year 2017 but is requesting $7.2 million for FY 2018 which starts on Oct. 1, 2017.

Acting Corrections Commissioner Vincent Attao, center, in the House chamber following the budget hearing on Monday. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

The governor’s proposed budget for Correction amounts to $5.3 million.

According to Attao, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. used to bill them $300,000 for utilities — now they are being billed $600,000, he said, adding that they have disputed the amount.

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Angel Demapan said performance-wise, the department is doing very well and the only challenge they see right now is the increase in the number of incarcerations.

He asked Attao to submit a breakdown of inmates by types of crimes committed. “So we can see whether they are burglaries, sexual violence or domestic violence. We also want to determine what kind of programs to implement to address the crimes and help bring down the population at Corrections.”

Demapan said another option is the drug court program. Drug offenders might qualify for treatment through the program instead of being incarcerated at Corrections, he added.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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