Gov Lolo spends Christmas visiting LBJ and prison
While others were spending Christmas day with their families and loved ones, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, his wife Cynthia Moliga, Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and his wife Pohakalani Mauga spent theirs visiting the inmates in jail and the sick in hospital.
The governor first visited the hospital with Mrs. Moliga, accompanied by Chief of Staff, Fiu Johnny Saelua and Deputy AG Mitzie Jessop. Lolo commended the nurses for working on this important holiday serving the people who are in need.
The First Lady passed out presents to the children in the Pediatric Clinic, saying they were gifts from her grandchildren, Matalasi and Mo. They also visited patients in other hospital wards, including the Medical, Surgical, Maternity, Pediatric, ER, Nursery and the Labor room.
The Governor said, “Today is Christmas and we want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and today… Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and I have decided to make it an annual project for us to visit the hospital, Hope House in Tafuna and those at the jail… the people who are unable to spend this special holiday with their families. Maybe our visit to them will bring them joy and happiness on this Christmas day.”
During briefs remarks on his visit to the Tafuna Correctional Facility , the governor said that several weeks back he visited the jail and saw first hand the unlivable conditions there, and since then his mind has not settled as to what needs to be done about it.
He said the youth are the future of any nation, and despite mistakes there is always hope. “I see that there are a lot of young ones who are incarcerated and I'm certain they are missing their families on this holiday which is why it’s important that we are here, to share the love and happiness.”
“There is hope behind the walls and fences you are looking at,” he said. Lolo told them that after their last visit he knew they had to come back for another visit and this time he brought lunch for all the inmates, including the women, those at the juvenile detention center and the mentally challenged inmates. The governor and his officials were greeted with ulas prepared by the women in jail.
During his visit the governor saw first hand how 47 male inmates are all housed in one small building, with 4-5 inmates in one cell and there are just 13 cell blocks.
In a briefing given by former Warden Lumana’i Maifea (who is now assigned to the DPS records office), Maifea said the jail is over-crowded, and there are close to 100 foreigners who were sentenced to depart the territory, yet they have no proper documents to leave.
In that last visit in early December, the governor said visiting the jail was among his top priorities, however he had to tend to other critical areas when he first took office, like fixing the roads and the classrooms.
Lolo said there are a lot of issues within the jail and he wants to assure that inmates' rights have not been violated while they are in custody. He said the conditions at the jail are “not livable and the inmates deserve to live in more decent living conditions; it’s just unbelievable.”
Another issue the governor looked at was programs the government can provide to help the inmates when they leave prison to return home and seek employment. “We have not really been paying attention to the inmates and yet we should,” Lolo said.
“Just because they violated the law does not mean they are to be treated this way.” The governor has ordered DPW Director Faleosina Voigt to act on constructing a new jail, which would be located between the juvenile facility and the current TCF facilities.