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Inmate stabbing highlights over-crowding, drugs at TCF

“TCF is not a drug-free place” says Chief Probation Officer
reporters@samoanews.com

The Criminal Investigation Division has been instructed by the Acting Commissioner of Public Safety William Haleck to investigate the alleged stabbing of an inmate inside the Tafuna Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Responding to Samoa News queries, Haleck confirmed that an argument had broken out between two inmates which led to the stabbing. In the meantime the wounded inmate has been admitted to LBJ Hospital and is undergoing medical treatment for his wounds while the other inmate has been detained in maximum security. Haleck could not comment on the status of the inmate who was hospitalized, but he did confirm that a homemade sharp device had been used.

“The sharp object was created by the inmate from bits and pieces of what he could find inside his cell. “It was not something that was brought into the jail from outside, rather it was a man-made object” said the Acting Commissioner.

Commander of the CID Lavata’i Taase Sagapolutele declined to comment on the issue. Samoa News understands that the inmates involved in this incident are housed together and they are co-defendants in several burglary cases for which they are currently serving time. 

In other news from the TCF, the Acting Commissioner said the government is in the process of preparing to build a new correctional facility at the same location.

“There is funding available from the Department of Interior for the new facility and they are currently working on building a temporary jail to house close to 200 inmates. The temporary jail should be completed by the end of this year, and that will be phase one.

“The second phase will be underway next year, 2014 and this will be a state-of-the-art jail. There will be 100 cells with bunk beds and only two inmates will be in one cell, not more than that. “This new building will come with furniture and much more for the inmates” he said.

Haleck added that not all who are held at the jail are inmates serving sentences; some are incarcerated while their cases are pending, and they are unable to post bail.

Last year Chief Probation Officer Tauili’ili Silivelio Iosefo informed the court that illegal drugs such as marijuana/methamphetamine and homemade brew were found at the TCF.

The Chief Probation Officer was giving testimony to the court after he recommended that two inmates be released from jail to the probation office, given the crowded situation at the jail.

“In the recent past there have been, I believe two or three drug tests of certain inmates in the TCF, and I was fairly surprised to find that a majority of those inmates were tested and found positive with either marijuana or methamphetamine.

“There was also an indication that two inmates tested positive and had the presence of the oxycodone drug, which is considered a controlled substance in the territory”. The Chief Probation Officer also relayed the fact that there are currently no counseling or drug rehabilitation programs for anger management or drug and alcohol abuse available at the TCF.

“TCF is not a drug-free place” he said. Some inmates who went into jail having had no dealing with drugs were coerced into smoking marijuana by cell mates who had been in there for a lengthy period of time he said.

The Chief Probation Officer said that there are examples of some who came into prison and remained there for a lengthy period of time, who came out much worse than they went in.

He also noted when he was visiting an inmate in jail, that inmate was placed in maximum security for 20 days for participating with his cell mates in drinking a homemade brew.

“This is a startling revelation— I never thought that beer can made in any prison but I was told by that probationer (the inmate) that the owner of the brew is serving a very lengthy jail sentence for a serious offense, and just because he was a cell mate in that unit, he was in one way or another coerced into partaking of the homemade brew”.

 Chief Justice Michael Kruse noted that from the testimony of the Chief Probation Officer, the so-called correctional facility is becoming less and less a correctional facility. He noted that walking away from an issue will not solve an issue…. “The correctional facility is less of a correctional facility— but more of a warehouse where bodies are taken in and we forget about them”.



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