DOC chief says foremost plan is to hire counselor for inmates, officers
Robert A. Guerrero was sworn in yesterday as Department of Corrections commissioner.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos administered the oath of office for Guerrero at DOC’s conference room in Susupe.
Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, Attorney General Edward Manibusan, Cabinet members, lawmakers, community leaders, and Guerrero’s family and relatives witnessed the brief ceremony.
In an interview, Guerrero said among his priorities is to bring in a counselor for inmates as well as for the corrections officers. Once the counselor is on board within a couple of weeks, he said he would establish a counseling program for the inmates and officers.
Guerrero said the counselor would help assess and determine the specific rehabilitation needs of inmates since there are different kinds of rehabilitation.
Although DOC is no longer under a consent decree, Guerrero said he plans to continue following it, making sure the operation of the state’s prisons is in accordance with the consent decree.
The consent decree was entered by the U.S. Department of Justice and the CNMI in 1999. Its aim was to improve the conditions of the CNMI’s detention institutions that were deemed to violate the civil rights of those detained at the facilities, and to safeguard against future violations.
The 15-year-old consent decree was terminated in May 2014.
Inos told reporters yesterday he would like Guerrero to maintain the conditions of the consent decree and make sure it’s being followed.
“We don’t have to go back to the same routine before. [We want to] continue with the progress to make sure that this facility is kept according to standards,” Inos said.
The governor said he wants to make sure that inmates are taken cared of and for Guerrero to maintain the kind of management style initiated by the previous administration and his predecessor.
The Senate confirmed Guerrero’s nomination as DOC commissioner last Friday.
Guerrero used to serve as Commonwealth Election Commission executive director. He succeeded Corrections commissioner Ramon Mafnas, who is now special assistant for projects for the government.
Meanwhile, Inos and Torres also issued yesterday a proclamation declaring May 3 to 9 as CNMI Correctional Officers’ Week.
“We recognize the contributions made and honor the work of Correctional officers. We call upon all citizens to pay special tribute to these men and women who serve the CNMI faithfully over the years,” the governor said.