The governor of the US-administered Northern Mariana Islands is feeling the heat after ordering the temporary release of a jailed suspect to give him a massage.
Benigno R. Fitial, the most senior politician in the western Pacific territory, demanded Chinese masseuse, Qing Mei Cheng, be set free on January 8 to treat him for back pain.
The masseuse was taken from the local prison, where she was being held on people smuggling charges, to the governor's mansion before being returned to jail...
Fitial, who won re-election for a second term in a run-off election in November, made headlines late last year when he had to drive himself around after his driver was convicted of dealing drugs from the official car.
The commissioner said DOJ is now satisfied that the CNMI is now operating according to the standards in the United States.
“So by Sept. 15 we are moving in. (U.S. District Court for the NMI) Judge Alex Munson is happy to announce that we are going to be lifted on that responsibility,” she said.
San Nicolas said she is urging that consent decree must stop because DOC cannot move on as long as it is under DOJ's control.
“Consent decree is telling you that you do not know how to operate a prison,” she said.
On the manpower shortage issue, San Nicolas said it is mandatory to assign 18 personnel per shift at DOC.
She said all designated areas must be posted and that corrections officers cannot leave their posts.
“So sufficiently we are running out of lack of manpower at this time. We're only sufficiently covering 13 per shift. And that's a liability,” the commissioner disclosed.
San Nicolas said she is against the previous DOC's administration's decision to incorporate detainees into the adult prison facility.
“To me it's not right,” she said, explaining that detainees have different rights than inmates or convicted persons.
San Nicolas said with the insufficient budget to meet DOC's goals, she recommends sending all the prisoners off-island.
“And why is that? Because we don't have sufficient programs at this time to accommodate all these criminals,” she added.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Delores M, San Nicolas was nominated by Governor Fitial to the position in June 2009 and she was confirmed in July 2009. The governor terminated former Commissioner Lino Tenorio in March 2009 for "not being loyal" because Tenorio announced that he would run for mayor as an independent rather than as a Covenant Party candidate.
While in there, two correction officers were assigned to monitor the safety of my son. Instead of ensuring his safety, the two officers assaulted and battered my son. He was strapped to a chair and slapped around. My son was slapped not only with their hands but using handcuffs as a weapon to slap my son's face. As this was happening, he said he was threatened to be poked in the eyes with their fingers. The sergeant's last words to my son were, “This prison is mine; I can do whatever I want.” The other officer hit him a final time and left him with blood dripping from his ears. He was left alone for about an hour in the isolation room.
Is this what happens to our children when they are placed in the custody of corrections officers? This institution is supposed to be in compliance with the Department of Justice's consent decree mandate for order, health, care and safety requirements. The two officers who used excessive force and brutality on my son are a ranking sergeant and correction officer II.
Chief Prosecutor Kevin Lynch made the decision to drop the charges. Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham concurred with the decision.So what did the DOC do to investigate the allegations and to make the offenders accountable? Nothing? I guess the officers were not suspended or disciplined because Arnold Kaipat Seman was one of the officers who accompanied the prisoner to the governor's house. In fact, Seman was promoted. According to the Saipan Tribune he was a sergeant when he was accused of assaulting the prisoner and he was a captain when he escorted the Chinese masseuse to Fitial's house. I was informed that this officer is the governor's nephew, but I am unable to confirm the rumor.
The government had charged Seman and Quitano with assault and battery, and misconduct in public office. Quitano was also charged with obstructing justice.
Lynch said the Commonwealth believes this criminal case should be dismissed so that all of Seman's and Quitano's actions can be addressed by one adjudicating body rather than having two somewhat parallel proceedings: the Superior Court and the DOC administrative process.
“Upon dismissal of this action the Commonwealth will be referring the matter for the commencement of formal action within DOC,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the acts complained of happened during an incident when a belligerent inmate was not compliant with the rules of conduct regarding detained persons.
He said the prosecution believes the conduct of the officers also did not conform to the rules governing the conduct of Corrections officers in their dealings with inmates.
Lynch said DOC has administrative procedures in place to address actions of Corrections personnel that violate the standards of conduct imposed by Corrections rules and regulations.