Decades-old prison reform consent decree to endWritten by Janela Carrera
Guam - After more than two decades, the Attorney General’s Office has announced that it is ready to end the consent decree for the Department of Corrections.
The announcement was made Tuesday in a press release from the US Attorney’s Office, saying that they will file a joint motion to dismiss with the AG’s Office, to terminate the 1991 settlement agreement for civil reform of the Department of Corrections.
Interestingly enough, AG Elizabeth Barrett Anderson was also in office back in 1991 and signed the original settlement agreement herself. When she was first elected in 2014 into the position, she promised to work on the DOC consent decree to end it while in office.
The settlement agreement was entered into after allegations of constitutional violations at the correctional facility related to fire safety, sanitation and access to health care. In recent years these issues were highlighted in numerous other lawsuits filed by inmates who complained about the inhumane conditions inside the prison.
However, since an order by federal judge Alex Munson was instituted giving DOC a clear deadline, many of these issues were addressed head on.
You can read the press release from the US Attorney's Office below:
SHAWN N. ANDERSON, Acting United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Territory of Guam today jointly filed a motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court, to terminate a 1991 Settlement Agreement for the civil reform of conditions in Guam’s jail and prison facilities.
“The completion of this civil Settlement Agreement demonstrates the U.S. Department of Justice’s continuing commitment to ensure that all men and women who are detained or serving prison sentences receive the protections guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Acting United States Attorney Shawn N. Anderson.
“Guam’s compliance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement means inmates and detainees are more likely to be housed in cleaner and safer conditions, and that they will have adequate access to vital health care services.”
The United States Attorney’s Office continues to pursue other cases and matters involving federal criminal violations connected with the Guam Department of Corrections. The Settlement Agreement resolved the United States’ allegations of a pattern or practice of constitutional violations in Guam’s correctional facilities related to fire safety, sanitation, and access to health care. The case was brought under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. §1997), which protects the federal rights of people in state and locally operated institutions, including nursing homes, hospitals, and correctional facilities. To comply with the Settlement Agreement and remedy the constitutional violations, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney
General of Guam participated in a series of hearings before the U.S. District Court of Guam. The Office of the Attorney General of Guam partnered with national experts and recruited specialists within the Government of Guam, resulting in improvements to the fire safety and sanitation systems throughout its facilities. The Attorney General of Guam completely overhauled the Department of Correction’s health care practices by transferring control of its clinic to staff at Guam Memorial Hospital.
The case was handled by attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.