Acute manpower shortage at DOC

‘They’re not even on skeleton crew right now’

A few Corrections officers and some inmates at the Department of Corrections in Susupe have tested positive for COVID-19, causing a severe manpower shortage at DOC. Some police officers were then sent to DOC to shore up its manpower but a few of them also caught the COVID-19 virus, thus depleting their manpower even more.

That’s what’s happening at DOC right now, according to House of Representatives vice speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), who disclosed this situation yesterday at a House session in emphasizing the need to help DOC with its emergency hiring of Corrections officers to stem the worsening manpower shortage situation.

He said a concern was brought up last week and over the weekend regarding DOC’s situation as a few officers and some inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. “Their manpower is dwindling pretty quick,” he said.

Attao said DOC actually got assistance from the Department of Public Safety, which sent about 10 to 20 police officers to DOC to ease the manpower problem. Unfortunately, he said, many of those police officers also caught the COVID-19 virus.

“So they’re running on not even skeleton crew right now. They’re really scratching the ground right now in regards to manpower,” he said.

Attao said a lot of Corrections officers are able to go home for a couple of hours, but have to report back to DOC as soon as possible because of the severe manpower shortage that they have.

He said the proper House committee should look into this issue and look at the opportunity if there’s financial assistance that could be extended to DOC or possibly request additional money via the $500 that is being entertained for the retirees’ bonuses. He suggested to have some sort of an emergency hiring for the DOC, to assist them in their situation right now.

“We have to provide those services. They have a grant that they have to abide by and, with the shortage of manpower, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to even live up to the grant expectations because of the lack of manpower that they’re facing over there,” Attao said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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