House passes contraband bill


John Paul Sablan

The House of Representatives passed last week a bill that aims to provide clarity to the crime of promoting prison contraband and outlines appropriate punishment. House Bill 23-17, HS1 now goes to the Senate for action after all 19 House members present voted “yes.”

Rep. John Paul Sablan (Ind-Saipan), who is the author of the bill, said in an interview that this is actually a recycled bill that he first introduced in the 22nd Legislature.

Sablan said he is re-introducing the bill because the CNMI does not have any statute that deals with contraband being brought inside the local prison. “We need to prevent contrabands from entering prison facilities and this is the reason why I introduced this [bill],” he said.

Sablan thanked the Department of Correction as well as the Office of the Attorney General because they worked together on this legislation.

According to the bill, current CNMI law regarding prison contraband is quite antiquated, and does not take into account the current needs of DOC to secure its facilities. 

Clarification in the law is needed to define what items are prohibited, along with appropriate penalties for those who introduce, possess and promote contraband in correctional facilities.

Enacting the prison contraband statute will provide DOC a more enforceable mandate that can deter inmates, detainees, correctional officers, contractors, volunteers, and the public from possessing contraband in any of the CNMI’s correctional facilities.

The bill defines what items are considered contraband.

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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