World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Guam’s Adult Correctional Facility

A New Vision to Facilitate Parole from Guam’s Adult Correctional Facility

by Dianne M. Strong, Ed.D.

Chamorro people of Guam, small in numbers and vulnerable geographically, adapted to the harsh new conditions imposed by each wave of conquerors, and, in a remarkable feat of cultural endurance, managed to maintain their language, their identity, and their pride under the colonial domination of three of history’s most powerful nation-states: Spain, Japan, and the United States of America (Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. 1995, 2). [emphasis added]

Besides syphilis and a cash economy, the now U.S. Territory of Guam was also “gifted” with a draconian parole system modeled after the State of California. The 1952 law (amended in 1977) ignored the strong indigenous Chamorro culture that had survived despite hundreds of years of foreign domination.

What constitutes the very essence of this unique Chamorro culture is the value system of “inafa’maolek”-- compassion. As former Governor Carl Gutierrez stated, “It’s about caring, accepting, and helping one another with open hearts and open minds. Inafa’maolek is the inner strength and the treasure of our families and our island community. We live it daily, the warmth, the generosity, the deep and abiding respect for our elders. It lives in the hearts of our people.”

As the United States enters the historic “Obama Age” of seeking reconciliation over retaliation, listening rather than dictating, finding common ground rather than erecting walls, it is time for Guam’s penal code to mandate and facilitate a Parole Board that can demonstrate a commitment to corrections versus punishment. It is time to practice “inafa’maolek.”

Guam’s current parole board consists of five members nominated by the territorial governor and confirmed by the 15-member Guam Legislature following a public hearing. The chairman of the current board is both a former warden of the Guam Adult Correctional Facility (resigned 7 December 1991 after being named a defendant in CV91-00059), and a Korean War veteran, retired Command Sgt. Major, Psychological Operations Army Ranger. He thus sets the punitive tone for this board given the current statutory mandate.

The catalyst that has revealed the need for revision of Guam’s parole laws is the case of Inmate Francisco B. Camacho. An honorably discharged 101st Airborne veteran who served in Vietnam, 1967-‘68, “Chankie” brought the war home to his native Guam. The VA’s “Vet Center” would not open on Guam until 1989, ten years after congressional authorization. When Chankie committed his triple murder in 1975, no one on Guam had heard of PTSD.

Thirty-three years after he committed his crime, for which he has always taken responsibility and expressed lifelong remorse, Chankie has been denied parole six times. Sentenced to three concurrent life terms in 1976, he was torn from his only son, and abandoned by his wife. Nothing is more sacred to a CHamoru than his blood, and to be denied seeing his son was worse for this proud man than the death penalty, which he had sought, but which has never existed on Guam’s books.

At Chankie’s July 2008 parole hearing, his supporters were treated like criminals under questioning by board members. Ms. MiChelle Taitano, who had lost a brother-in-law to PTSD, grilled Chankie’s would-be parole advisor, a retired Superior Court probation officer who had been a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam in 1967-‘68. “Are you sure you don’t have PTSD?” she asked him. “Are you sure you would report him if he violated a condition of parole?” Such treatment of a retired peace officer would be considered extremely shameful -- “mamalao”-- in Chamorro culture.

Retired Police Officer Soledad Chargulaf questioned the inmate about an episode of drunkenness that had occurred in 1986 at a prison industry wood cutting site. Ms. Chargualaf ignored the inmate’s more recent 14-year “clear conduct” record at Oregon State Penitentiary (1994-2008), which served as the basis for the current warden’s (historic) written recommendation for parole. Never in his 33 years in corrections, from a lowly guard to superintendent, had Warden Francisco B. Crisostomo seen such a record for a three-time “lifer” with so little to gain. Clearly Ms. Chargualaf was blind to the concept of rehabilitation.

In fact, the parole board also ignored recommendations from the inmate’s prosecutor, who wrote in 1986, “Once a person has served ten years in prison he has certainly learned the meaning of punishment if that be the purpose of the law. Mr. Camacho is at an age where he could contribute to society and continue his education.” Through the prison’s Work-Study Release Program, Chankie had accrued 82 credits towards a degree in Sociology at the University of Guam, where he became Dr. Dianne Strong’s writing student.

Furthermore, the parole board ignored the prison’s own psychologist – hired as a result of the U.S. civil rights suit Chankie had filed and won in 1993 – who diagnosed his PTSD to be in remission, and also recommended for his immediate parole.

The current corrections code gives the parole board such sweeping powers and secrecy that it believes itself to be wholly “sovereign.” It even must make recommendations to the governor, who has chosen its members, for all pardons and commutation of sentences.

With chronic over-crowding, a strained Department of Corrections budget, spending $35,000/year per inmate, parole is needed for inmates who pose no threat to the residents of Guam.

The need for revision of parole laws is even greater, given the reality that virtually 95 per cent of the prison’s 500 inmates can only be released by the parole board. With indefinite sentences being the norm for inmates who are parole-eligible, virtually all inmates must face the board before being granted a mandatory three-year parole release.

Clearly what is needed is a radically fresh approach to the composition, powers and operation of the parole board. For a start, former corrections employees should be prohibited from serving, for the obvious possibility of conflict of interest. Next, criteria for release on parole must incorporate the culturally based Chamorro tradition of “inafa’maolek,” and an assessment-based rating system. Employees of the Casework & Counseling Division should be working as partners with parole officers, in evaluating and preparing both inmates and their receiving family members prior to the parole hearing.

The Department of Corrections’ culture of secrecy needs to be replaced with sharing of information to optimize the chances for successful release of an inmate. Interviewing of an inmate’s supporters should also be conducted in a manner reflecting “inafa’maolek,” and showing respect.

Lastly, training in assessment and interviewing should be required for the Guam Parole Board. The resources are available from faculty from the University of Guam (which grants baccalaureate and masters degrees in 36 fields): from social sciences, communication, criminal justice, social work, political science, and the like.

A major goal for improvement in the Guam Department of Corrections is developing transparency. The Government of Guam has been slow to develop mandated web sites for its departments, and the parole board makes no use of the worldwide web. Monthly parole hearing agendas, parole releases, all parolee monitoring and assessments, and parole revocations should be posted on the web. This provides staff accountability and eases community safety fears.

The late Angel Leon Guerrero Santos, a former two-term Guam Senator, said "Patience, faith, and prayer are our only weapon in reversing the injustice and restoring hope for our people." With the planned relocation of 8,000 US Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and the revitalization of the Chamorro culture, it is time to do far more than pray. The time has come for revision of Guam’s penal code to facilitate the safe return of inmates to their loved ones who at the same time have suffered as innocent victims. The time has come for parolees to be embraced by the community in the treasured Chamorro cultural tradition of “inafa’maolek.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Ban Ki-Moon Condemns Texas Shooting

4 May 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned yesterday’s shooting in Texas that injured a law enforcement officer, reiterating that such criminal acts have nothing to do with religion or belief. More>>

Release Of 200 Nigerian Girls Held Captive By Boko Haram

UN envoy Gordon Brown welcomes release of 200 Nigerian girls held captive by Boko Haram More>>

Ban Calls For Immediate End To Hostilities In Northern Mali

Chadian UN peacekeepers heading to their base in Tessalit, northern Mali. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino More>>

New UN Special Envoy On Ebola Response Visit To Sierra Leone

29 April 2015 – The United Nations World Health Organization ( WHO ) today said that surveillance and community engagement still require improvement in some areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone where new cases continued to surface, a day after the ... More>>

Somalia Registers Record Export Of Livestock In 2014

Somalia registers record export of livestock in 2014 due to trade boost with Gulf States More>>


United States: Riots In Baltimore – National Guard Sent In [graphic Images]

Riots have broken out in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man who died from injuries sustained while in police custody. More>>

West Papua: “Lest We Forget”

AS Anzac approaches and Australians and New Zealanders remember those who fought and lost their lives on Anzac Day, it is hoped we will also remember the unfree people of the Pacific region and in particular those who are still suffering from human ... More>>

Iran: 81 Executions In One Week

Coincident with mass executions in the prisons of Ghezel-Hessar, Karaj and other cities, the anti-human regime of mullahs sent 16 other prisoners to the gallows in Mashhad and Birjand (northeastern Iran). Twelve of them were hanged collectively ... More>>

Al-Shabaab: Four Unicef Staff Killed In Somalia

Four UNICEF staff members have been killed in an attack on their vehicle in Garowe, Somalia. Four other UNICEF colleagues are in a serious condition. The IED (improvised explosive device) attack occurred when the staff were travelling from their guest ... More>>

UN: Suicide Attack In Jalalabad Condemned

NEW YORK/KABUL/GENEVA (18April 2015) – “I strongly condemn the brutal suicide attack that coincided with my visit to Jalalabad today,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović during his visit to Afghanistan. ... More>>

Save The Children: STC Urges EU Leaders To Act To Prevent More Mass Drownings

Save the Children Urges EU Leaders to Act to Prevent More Mass Drownings at Sea. More>>

ALSO:

Japan: Independent Experts Slam Japan’s New Whaling Plan

Independent experts slam Japan’s new whaling plan and declare no more whales need to be killed for Antarctic research More>>

Gaza Strip: Attacks In The Border Areas

Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news