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Video of inmates in drinking session at TCF surfaces on social media

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Once again members of the local community, including some victims, have raised deep concerns regarding the fact that some inmates at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) are able to access social media sites such as Facebook.

Samoa News reported on such concerns last year in November, and tracked down some of the inmates Facebook accounts — which were active — showing posted photos from inside their cells at TCF. The prison supposedly does not allow any and all electronic devices, such as phones and/or laptops for inmates.

Fast-forward to this week — and Samoa News saw a video that was posted on Facebook showing TCF inmates having a drinking party, while loud music is playing in the background, outside one of the TCF buildings. There are about 9 inmates shown in the under 2-minute video, and some of them are holding beer cans and dancing, while others are cheering them on.

The video was first seen on Facebook on Monday, and overnight, it was taken down. However, Samoa News has a copy of the video.

Efforts to obtain comments from DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson and TCF Warden Tauese Va’aomala Sunia were unsuccessful as of press time yesterday. Samoa News was told by a reliable source that the DPS commissioner has been informed of the alleged video and an investigation is now being carried out.

It was reported through the local media that around October of last year, police confiscated cell phones, drugs and drug paraphernalia following raids at the TCF.

While this is the first time a video has surfaced about a drinking session among TCF prisoners, it is not the first time an inmate drinking session has come to light.

Samoa News reported on a case in December 2018 of a prisoner that was supposed to be served with a copy of an arrest warrant for his Order to Show Cause the previous month; however, police had to go look for him as he had escaped from the holding cell in Fagatogo — located behind the new DPS building.

The government claimed that the inmate was allegedly involved in a drinking session with the other three inmates in the holding cell; and it was during the drinking session that a fight broke out, and that's when he allegedly escaped from custody.