OP-ED: A CHALLENGE TO THE CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
Greetings to all the wonderful Gubernatorial and Congressional candidates. I have been listening to all the promises and excellent plans for the future of American Samoa, Manu’a and Swains Isle — of what you will do when you are elected into office.
I love the plans for higher and accessible education, medical care, job opportunities, immigration status, attracting businesses, pollution control and how the private and business world can merge for the betterment of the government.
As an advocate against sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, how about talking about something that is literally destroying the fabric of our culture, religion and community in American Samoa.
If you look into the Samoa News Archives, they have been very active in reporting on charges and sentencing of sex offenders in the Family and High Court. You can see documentation of how sex offenses are increasing at an alarming rate. We have seen, heard in court and read about the depraved sexual acts being done to our children. As offensive and indecent as it looks, adults are committing sodomy and vile oral forms of sexual acts, which are being forced upon children through their ignorance, coercion, seduction and threats.
Worse, is it has taken many weeks, months, even years before it is reported. Mind you, this does not include the multitude times the offenders beg and are given forgiveness by the familes of the victims.
The Amerika Samoa Multi Disciplinary Team has been persistently trying to provoke high powered attention and engagement from the church, government, community, law makers and enforcers to unite and come up with solutions. It appears attempts through the editorials, and the numerous outreaches on awareness and trainings hosted by the MDT, Government agencies and other NGO’s are still kept on the back burner.
These solutions include discussing the amendments for laws that state “after serving 1/3 of a sentence of imprisonment, the offender is eligible for parole” (ASC 46.2304). It would be more effective and meaningful if they serve at least ½ of their time before consideration for parole.
As for the victim, it is a life-long conviction of being incarcerated in the body of the violated.
What is your stand on the Sex Offenders Registry Notification Act (SORNA)?
The Child Abuse Law is still laying dormant in the Fono. We need an amendment to increase the age from 14 -18 before parental consent for marriage. This is also a time to dialogue on Sentence Enhancement laws for repeat sex offenders.
How about enforcing quarterly random drug testing for the inmates in the Tafuna Correctional Facility especially for those up for parole? Not to mention drug testing for LBJ, EMS, DPS, Fire Department and TCF staff.
All these issues are eroding us as a people, because many who swore to uphold their offices are straddling the fence, because it’s too close to home.
My challenge for you candidates is to let us, the public, know what kind of impact and commitment you will make, in addressing these social ills that you will inherit, when you get into office. Where do you stand???