"Our perimeter right now is vulnerable," said Department of Corrections Col. Alan Borja. "We do not have the adequate staff to manage the perimeter."
Borja, who is the warden for the Adult Correctional Facility in Mangilao, provided a blunt assessment of DOC's dire staffing needs to senators on the appropriations committee Tuesday morning.
The Mangilao prison houses 503 inmates and detainees. Another 187 are jailed in the Hagåtna Detention Facility, he said.
"That's really overpopulated," Borja said during testimony at the budget hearing.
The prison's central processing center is handling 12 to 15 arrests every day.
"This number has doubled in the last 10 years," Borja said.
"Let's face it – not too many people want to walk (in) our shoes. That's why you have a lot of officers walking out on us," he said.
Right now, only 70 officers are available on any given day to cover both facilities, while standard operating procedure calls for 108 officers to be on duty.
"Those are scary numbers," Borja said.
The DOC Special Operations Response Team has been deactivated due to the shortage of personnel, Borja said.
"If something breaks out up there, the only ones that are going to respond are me and Maj. Antone Aguon at times," he said.
"We're not raising the flag at this moment in surrender. We're here to ensure public safety and the safety of the officers and the incarcerates."
He told the senators, "We ask for your support before something really grave happens up there."
$24.4M budget request
DOC Director Samantha Brennan told members of the appropriations committee that the department is asking for about $24.4 million for fiscal year 2020, which begins Oct. 1.
Of that amount, $22.8 million would come from the General Fund and $1.5 million would come from the Corrections Revolving Fund and Safe Streets Fund, Brennan said.
The budget allotment would go toward the following:
• Personnel – $17,151,363
• Overtime – $766,891
• Operational costs and utilities – $4,937,621
"The overtime requested will not be sufficient to sustain (DOC) for the whole fiscal year if we do not hire additional officers," Brennan said, adding DOC already has exceeded this year's overtime budget by more than $500,000, with four months left before the fiscal year ends.
Brennan also pointed out that 60% of the operational costs are for medical and dental services provided to inmates and detainees. The rest is for supplies and equipment.
'You should be back at $26 million'
Appropriations committee Chairman Sen. Joe San Agustin pointed out that Brennan's $24 million budget request is $2 million short of this year's budget.
"You should be back at $26 million, if not more," San Agustin said.
He asked Brennan to provide the committee with a supplemental appropriation request to cover the need for additional officers.
San Agustin also asked Brennan about efforts to construct a new prison.
Brennan said she had been approached by Joseph Diego, the area director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who said a grant application is in the works.
She also said that Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam has asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to come to Guam and inspect the prison, "and perhaps help us move forward to construct a state-of-the-art facility."