Gov's pardon could be used to ease TCF overcrowding
Executive authority to pardon “model prisoners” is one option for the government to reduce overcrowding at the Territorial Correctional Facility, which has been described by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga as a dumping ground by police, during a site visit two weeks ago, according to the governor’s executive director Iulogologo Joseph Pereira.
This revelation by Iulogologo was based on questions from Samoa News on the issue of the sitting governor’s pardon authority. It’s this time of the year that a sitting governor would receive, review and issue any pardons, which is usually done before the start of a new year.
Following his site visit of TCF early this month, accompanied by cabinet directors, Lolo appointed a five-member task force to come up with a plan to immediately reduce the overcrowding conditions at TCF and identify contributing factors causing the overcrowding.
The governor saw first hand how 47 male inmates are all housed in one small building, with 4-5 inmates in one cell and only 13 cellblocks. While TCF is to house up to 100 inmate, it had just over 200 during the governor’s visit.
Iulogologo told Samoa News last Friday the issue of pardons came up during the follow-up meetings “of the stakeholders” with the task force “as a means to reduce the prison population, especially for those who have acted as model prisoners.”
He said, “The team is yet to report to the governor their findings and recommendations relative to options to address the problems at the prison. Using Executive Authority to pardon some of the inmates is one of these options.”
As of last Friday morning, Iulogologo said the governor has not pardoned anyone yet — but didn’t immediately indicate if any pardon requests have been received.
According to the local constitution, the “Governor shall have the power to remit fines and forfeitures, commute sentences, and grant reprieves and pardons after conviction for offenses against the laws of American Samoa.”
If Lolo does issue any pardon that means the criminal record of such person would be expunged and their full civil rights restored, such as the right to vote or work for the American Samoa Government.
As previously reported by Samoa News, former Gov. Togiola Tulafono, in the last days of his administration, granted eight pardons to local residents, who had been convicted of various crimes.
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