Higher mandatory prison terms for school burglars pushed


Senate floor leader Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) has introduced a bill that will establish higher mandatory sentences for crimes committed within schools and youth centers.

Under Sablan’s Senate Bill 22-28, a person convicted of committing a crime against a person or property within the premises of a school and/or youth center shall be subject to a mandatory minimum prison term of not less than one-half of the maximum term of the charge he or she is found guilty, or five years, whichever is greater.

The prison term shall be imposed without the possibility of parole.

Sablan said yesterday that the CNMI’s school system has made great efforts in providing students much needed equipment and materials to learn in these unprecedented times. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has required the school system to retrofit classrooms and make substantial adjustments in providing the children an effective learning environment and a significant amount of resources has been expended to ensure that students continue to receive quality education.

“It is saddening that they have become victims [of] individuals who choose to take from the little resources our students have,” Sablan said.

The senator introduced the same bill when he was a member of the House of Representatives back in 2016. The legislation just never made it out of committee at the time. Sablan now chairs the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.

Sablan stated in the bill that schools and youth centers are establishments that are intended to provide a stable and positive environment for parents and children.

“When criminal acts occur within their vicinities, parents, students, and staff become deeply troubled and are often traumatized due to the exposure [to] the devastating damage,” he said. Therefore, Sablan said, proper measures must be implemented in order to deter such acts from occurring and allow for these schools and youth centers to continue contributing to the Commonwealth by providing beneficial environments to the youth.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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