Govt, DOC officials agree to pay $500 to settle inmate’s suit

The CNMI government and some former and current Department of Corrections officials have agreed to settle an inmate’s lawsuit by paying him $500 in court costs and amending DOC’s regulations on disciplinary sanctions and administrative segregation, among other terms.

A copy of the settlement agreement in Jerry Ray’s lawsuit, which was filed before the U.S. District Court for the NMI last Thursday, was obtained by Saipan Tribune yesterday.

The defendants in the lawsuit all deny liability for the actions complained of in Ray’s complaint.

The remaining defendants in this case are the CNMI government, former DOC commissioner Vincent S. Attao, DOC director Gregory Castro, and classification officer Cynthia B. Santos.

The co-defendants dismissed from the lawsuit are former acting DOC commissioner Georgia M. Cabrera, pre-trial operations captain Pius P. Yaroitemal, and operation commander David Deleon Guerrero. Cabrera is still a DOC official.

Chief among the terms of the settlement is that DOC shall not impose on Ray solitary confinement, isolation, or administrative segregation and/or loss of privileges and that DOC shall provide him with mental health treatment, care, or counseling.

DOC shall follow the psychiatrist’s recommendations regarding Ray’s treatment and care.

At the same time, DOC agrees to amend its regulations governing solitary confinement, isolation, or administrative segregation, with input from the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc.

Until then, DOC shall not impose any sanctions or administrative segregation resulting in more than 15 days of consecutive solitary confinement, isolation, or administrative segregation.

Periods of administrative segregation longer than 15 days shall be made only to maintain inmate and DOC staff safety, with the consultation of a DOC or Commonwealth Health Center’s medical professional.

DOC shall not impose restraints on Ray as a sanction or in any punitive fashion. Restraints are allowable as measures for inmate and staff safety.

DOC shall not deny Ray the privilege of telephone calls and visitation with his family members for more than 15 days in succession.

DOC shall provide Ray with outside work assignments, indoor and outdoor recreational activity, and at least one hour of “fresh air” daily.

In his lawsuit, Ray demanded to be paid $100 a day, for a total of $65,000, for the period he was allegedly subjected to solitary confinement and provided with inadequate mental health treatment at DOC.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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