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Saturday, April 19, 2014

CNMI and DOJ seek termination of consent decree

The CNMI and U.S. governments filed yesterday a joint motion that seeks to terminate the consent decree the Commonwealth forged with the U.S. Department of Justice almost 15 years ago to address problematic conditions at the local prison.

Assistant attorney general Teresita J. Sablan, counsel for the CNMI government, and DOJ’s trial attorney Jeffrey R. Murray informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI that the Commonwealth has fulfilled its obligations under the consent decree.

Sablan and Murray said the parties agree that the CNMI “is in compliance with the requirements of the consent decree.”

Sablan and Murray said that an evidentiary hearing is not necessary because the U.S. government does not oppose the termination of the consent decree.

The federal court entered in February 1999 the consent decree that the CNMI and DOJ forged following the U.S. government’s lawsuit on behalf of inmates over the deplorable conditions of the local prison.

The CNMI was forced to build the new prison in Susupe under the consent decree. Construction of the new prison began in 2002 with an initial cost of about $17 million that later ballooned to $20.9 million. The new prison opened in 2008.

In their joint motion to terminate, Sablan and Murray agreed that some of the major achievements include the construction of the new adult detention facility on Saipan; construction of a new Juvenile Detention Unit on Saipan; renovation of the Rota and Tinian detention facilities; development and implementation of policies and procedures, including classification system for inmates; and implementation of medical screening and provision of medical care for inmates; implementation of fire safety plans and apparatuses; and increase of staffing at the Department of Corrections and Juvenile Detention Unit to ensure adequate supervision to minimize harm to inmates.

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