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Governor pays a surprise visit to TCF, and he was not happy

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga paid a surprise visit to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) yesterday afternoon, after hearing reports that the TCF Maximum Security, a bathroom and cafeteria buildings were closed down permanently last week by officials from the Department of Public Health (DOH), due to the unsafe health conditions.

Other government officials who were there with Gov. Lolo included the Director of the Department of Health (DOH), the Director of Public Works; the deputy commissioner, along with a local business owner who operates a construction company in American Samoa.

Right after the Governor’s visit, the work to renovate the cafeteria and the office began immediately.

Samoa News received phone calls yesterday afternoon around 12:12 p.m from a reliable source inside TCF, saying that the Governor and other government officials were conducting a visit of TCF.

The source told Samoa News that Gov. Lolo was not happy during the visit; and overheard the Governor telling all government officials who were present during the visit that he does not want to leave the construction work to start next week Monday. He wants it to be done right away.

“Why did you hide this problem from me? the Governor was heard to ask. “Did you know that this issue was on the news this week. This is not good and I want the work to start today (yesterday)!”

A TCF guard, who does not wish to be named confirmed to Samoa News that men from a local construction company were there at the TCF compound yesterday afternoon, doing renovation work on the cafeteria and the office.

The guard also stated that this is a good sign — moving the TCF standard forward, not only the cafeteria but also the main office, along with other buildings that were closed down permanently by the DOH.

Samoa News called the owner of the construction company yesterday, and he confirmed that he was at a local hardware company to pick up the order for their work in Tafuna but he did not confirm where.

The construction work is expected to be finished before the end of this month.

Last week, DOH officials paid an unexpected visit to the TCF last week, after receiving a lot of complaints from family members of several inmates.

A source told Samoa News that all the inmates held inside the Max Security (MS) building have been transferred to other units inside TCF, due to the fact that there is no electricity nor water inside the building. The location is also not safe for anyone to live in nor sleep in, according to the source.

“The situation of the Max Security is really bad. This is not a place for a human being, however, all inmates who violated TCF’s rules such as escaping from confinement, were detained at the Max Security. I’m glad that this place is now closed down permanently by the DOH,” the source claims.

“Something needed to be done to the cafeteria,” another source said. “The inside of the cafeteria is really bad, dirty and unsafe for inmates. There is only one big pot that is used to cook food for inmates. We need a new cafeteria to make sure we have a safe place to cook food for the inmates,” another source said.

Despite the decision from DOH officials to condemn the cafeteria, a source said that inmates are still using the cafeteria to cook food under directions from the Warden.