Escapes, erroneous releases, leadership changes shake DOC (No. 6)

CAPTURED: Police escort Patrick Hernandez in Hagåtña after his capture. Hernandez escaped in November from the Hagåtña Detention Facility but was recaptured in Maina. Post file photo

Department of Corrections detainee Patrick Hernandez was on the run from authorities for nearly two hours after he escaped from the Hagåtña Detention Facility on Tuesday.

Hernandez was out getting some fresh air around 7 a.m. and apparently escaped while the perimeter gates were open for a food delivery.

Both the Mangilao prison and Hagåtña lockup were locked down while police and prison officers searched for Hernandez.

He was captured around 9 a.m. near the Maina Catholic Church.

Joe Carbullido, acting DOC deputy director, said, “We just need to continue with the investigation and find out what happened to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Academy of Our Lady of Guam and Bishop Baumgartner Memorial Catholic School, which are in close proximity of the jail, also locked their doors and posted guards while Hernandez was on the loose.

Additionally, Agana Heights Elementary School and C.L. Taitano Elementary School were on heightened alert and had stationed employees by the gates, Guam Department of Education officials stated. 

In light of the recent events, one senator is calling on the governor to declare an emergency at DOC. Sen. James Moylan's proposal would also inject as much as $500,000 into the troubled agency. 

Locked up on drunken driving, bribery allegations

Hernandez had been in jail on suspicion of giving bribes and driving while impaired.

According to court documents, he was pulled over by Guam Airport police on Sept. 17 after he failed to stop along Chalan Pasaheru.

Officers could smell alcohol coming from his breath. Documents state he had no ID, registration or insurance for the vehicle.

He then allegedly tried to offer the officer $100 three times to let him go.

Hernandez refused to take a breathalyzer test, and officers noted he was "extremely disrespectful, belligerent and screaming profanities,” documents state.

Halfway house runaways face felony charges for escape

On Oct. 9, DOC halfway house inmates Johnnie Del Rosario and Johnny Atalig escaped from the prison compound in Mangilao for one night before they surrendered to authorities.

Both face felony charges for the escape.

Five officers including prison warden Alan Borja were placed on administrative leave as part of the internal affairs investigation. The Post has learned four of the officers have since returned to work, but that no disciplinary action was taken. 

DOC leaders have yet to provide an update to that investigation. 

Deputy director: Prison needs more guards

"Manpower is an ongoing issue at DOC, and that's obviously already known," Carbullido said.

"Generally the concerns up there are: a lack of manpower that results in a not very secure oversight, long hours of working, feeling unsafe," said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.

The prison has about 160 workers to oversee the inmates and detainees at the prison.

Leon Guerrero said she would announce this week her plans to help the prison, which she said will not include declaring a state of emergency at DOC.

Governor: 40 to 60 new prison workers by year-end

She said the prison has streamlined its hiring process and plans to bring on board between 40 and 60 new workers by the end of the year.

"We worked with Department of Administration to streamline hiring and Guam Community College to get prequalified individuals who have gone through the criminal justice system," she said. "We are going to do concurrent things, like training and polygraphs."

The governor said she will also seek help from the FBI.

"We are working as best as we humanly can," she said. "I will do what I say I am going to do, and that's provide the necessary manpower."

Leon Guerrero said she remains confident in the current leadership at the prison. She also said the director at DOC has considered plans to ultimately build a new facility to enhance security.

Emergency declaration proposed  

Moylan introduced Bill 247-35 which would increase the amount a governor may expend in an emergency, lifting the cap to $500,000.

In a letter to the governor, Moylan asked that she call the Legislature into special session to consider Bill 247-35 and its partner legislation, Bill 245-35. 

“We are simply stating that we have introduced two bills that need to be considered urgent to address the critical needs at the correctional facility. Each and every day that we wait, we are placing these officers in danger, adding to their family concerns, and losing the confidence of the community that safety is a priority. At its present stage in the Legislature, these bills will become victims of unfavorable politics,” Moylan said. 

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