DOC Revolving Door Spinning Again...

May 26, 2010


I am not sure why the CNMI government is not allowing ICE to lease space at the Detention Center. After all, much of the funding to build the jail came from the federal government, and only a small percentage of the cells are currently occupied.

Besides, under the CNMI-Fitial Administration's prison system, sentences ordered by courts and judges are often reduced and prisoners are set free months or years before their sentences are up. Even those who have sentences with no parole have been released with the blessing of the Governor's Office.

This week Lt. Governor Eloy Inos commuted the sentence of yet another prisoner. Velma Jean Aldan Arriola who was sentenced in March 2010 to nine months in prison for "committing 30 counts of criminal offenses which included forgery, misuse of credit card, identity theft, theft by unlawful taking, and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received." Arriola was a former employee at the Revenue and Taxation Office of the Department of Finance.

The Marianas Variety reported:
The prosecution said the signatures of six taxpayers were forged by Arriola to pay the tax obligations of six other taxpayers who paid their taxes in cash.

Arriola received a total of $383.27, but her scheme involved 12 individual accounts, and victimized six taxpayers, the prosecution stated.
The lieutenant governor cited humanitarian reasons for why he commuted his former employee's sentence.
From the Marianas Variety:
Superior Court Associate Judge Ramona Manglona said Arriola’s conduct “undermined the trust placed in the commonwealth government by its taxpaying citizens and residents. Collection of tax money is the foundation of the commonwealth government’s livelihood. Her conduct causes a serious strain on the social contract between the…government and the governed. The government must hold its employees to the highest standards, a breach of that trust must be punished.”

Inos cited “humanitarian reasons” in commuting Arriola’s sentence.

Inos said Arriola “received support in her request for leniency from Speaker Froilan C. Tenorio, and Rep. Rafael S. Demapan…and other members of the community.”

Arriola, Inos said, is the primary caretaker of her ailing mother and disabled brother for several years.

She is also single mother with a 12-year-old minor son in need of nurturing and guidance, Inos added.

“Velma, being a female, is culturally most acceptable and natural to provide the necessary care and assistance that her mother needs,” Inos stated.

“Velma is most familiar, knowledgeable and understood the needs and manner of care-giving that her ailing mother and disabled brother deserve.”

Inos said Arriola “has expressed remorse and regret for her actions.”

All the victims have been reimbursed, he added, citing the information he received from the Department of Finance.

“The ends of justice are served by granting [her] an opportunity to continue the path to a successful, law-abiding life,” Inos stated in his order.

Inos was still the Finance secretary when Arriola committed her crimes.
The judge also permanently barred Arriola from employment in the CNMI government.

Maybe the Governor's Office is trying to send a message to the judiciary. The office attempted to interfere with the judiciary by recommending that their budget be cut. Maybe the message is that they are not needed since their sentences are routinely commuted.

Or maybe the Governor's Office is sending a message to the public that friends of the administration are not held accountable for their crimes. Look at the hundreds of employer-crooks who stole money from foreign workers. They never suffered any consequences and never had to pay what they owe the cheated workers. Look at the former felons or con artists who are elevated to high positions. Some were awarded pricey contracts (Felix Nogis), and others were chosen to be spokesmen for Fitial (Oscar Rasa.)

The governor and his lieutenant governor continue to make a mockery of justice. Recently a murder and others were granted parole. The detention center has a revolving door, at least for those with connections to the Fitial Administration.

The Administration also endorses a very unjust furlough policy as was evidenced by the weekend furloughs awarded regularly to violent criminal Joseph Aldan who is married to the former Commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Inos cited "humanitarian reasons" for commuting Arriola's sentence. Are these humanitarian feelings that the governor and lt. governor claim inspired them to commute the sentences only reserved for indigenous people who are in jail? Do they have any "humanitarian" feelings or compassion for the long-term foreign workers who face having their families divided, or are at risk of having to return to their homelands where they no longer have families, property or jobs?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Commuting sentences every week? Is the DOC empty?

Anonymous said...

We are NOT safe as long as the maniacs are ruling this island.

Anonymous said...

Paper said:
"She is also single mother with a 12-year-old minor son in need of nurturing and guidance, Inos added."

Nuturing and guidance? In the words of our great American philosopher Spongebob Squarepants "Good Luck With That".

There is something that happens here with employment that is not talked about very much, but I know for a fact that is does exist. The culture of "I don't really want to know why you left you last job". Not that this does not happen all over, but with this Government it is rampant.
Basically, a person works for a private company then gets fired for stealing money of something else just as bad. This is not considered a shameful thing on the island. They go apply for a government job a few weeks later. As an employer, I expect to get a call asking something about this person who worked here for years, but the call never comes. A few months later I here they are working at this or that agency. Now, if this happened once or even twice I might could forget about it, but I HAVE NEVER HAD A CALL FROM ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY ASKING EVEN THE BASIC LEGAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PERSON THEY WANT TO HIRE!! Even from the people I let go that were OK.
I have seen this happen about a dozen times. Of course, I know why. They don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why the CNMI government is not allowing ICE to lease space at the Detention Center. After all, much of the funding to build the jail came from the federal government, and only a small percentage of the cells are currently occupied.

The feds want to set reimbursement rates based in part upon historical costs or sunk costs of building the facility, and upon the unreasonably low labor costs of CNMI employees, including inadequate retirement payments.

The CNMI should offer to accept reimbursement rates based upon a slight reduction in replacement cost of the facility and what it would cost the U.S. to hire, train, and pay their own people or contractors to do the work. [Maybe Willie Tan can use an old garment factory and enter the private prison business!]

If the feds agree to pay such a fair market value, they will be getting a good deal. If they insist on taking advantage of the CNMI government, our leaders will be fully justified in telling them to pound sand and do it themselves. [Let the feds make the airlines rich, and deal with asylum claims on Guam or Hawaii.]

The CNMI suffers greatly from geographic isolation and remoteness. Now that this circumstance (due to the lack of feasible federal alternatives) confers a slight benefit to offset all the CNMI governmental and private sector losses, the CNMI government should not be denied this economic reward.

Under no circumstances should the CNMI subsidize the feds in their execution of this federal responsibility. You want to benefit from low CNMI costs? Give control back to them. You want federal control? Pay a federal price -- still lower than if you did it yourself.

Our community needs all the fiscal help it can get. Thank goodness for our strong CNMI leadership.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:17

Fiscal help? The CNMI has received hundreds of millions, if not billions, in dollars from the U.S. taxpayers. Please, consider local income or sales taxes.

Absolutely the CNMI should receive a fair price, but not an inflated or unrealistic price. I seriously think you are joking to even suggest that the very generous U.S. is taking advantage of the "poor" CNMI. Right?

You said, "Under no circumstances should the CNMI subsidize the feds in their execution of this federal responsibility. You want to benefit from low CNMI costs? Give control back to them. You want federal control? Pay a federal price -- still lower than if you did it yourself." You are so far off base you are not even on the same planet. The NMI will NEVER have "control" again. In fact, they never had "control." The evil CNMI labor and immigration system was always way out-of-control!

Anonymous said...

The message is don't worry about killing, stealing, drug dealing in the CNMI if you have Fitial connections.

Anonymous said...

"The feds want to set reimbursement rates based in part upon historical costs or sunk costs of building the facility, and upon the unreasonably low labor costs of CNMI employees, including inadequate retirement payments."

An ouright lie. The rate being offered is higher than that offered to any other local government or territory.

Anonymous said...

How many foreign or white prisoners have been let out for humanitarian reasons?

Anonymous said...

I seriously think you are joking to even suggest that the very generous U.S. is taking advantage of the "poor" CNMI. Right?

Wrong. I was referring solely to the discrete detention facility bed-space rental issue, where indeed DHS negotiators are bargaining hard against the CNMI and attempting to take advantage of the CNMI's poor fiscal situation.

I am not, of course, as you likely well know, complaining about the feds' incredible generosity to the CNMI over the years in funding numerous programs pursuant to Covenant Section 701, 48 U.S.C. § 1801 note in return for the strategic denial and land for defense facilities (including 200 miles of submerged lands) that the CNMI gave to the United States.

Nor am I referencing the feds paying a majority of the prison construction costs so that the CNMI could comply with an unfunded federal mandate that even led to the feds' suing the CNMI to force the CNMI to beg for federal funding. [I wonder where Fitial could possibly have gotten the idea that the federal judiciary was indeed the place to resolve disagreements as provided for in Covenant Section 903?]

[That is one of the biggest lies told by commenters on this blog, that lawsuits are taken personally by the feds, and tantamount to "biting the hand that feeds you." Fortunately, the feds are not nearly as unprofessional and unethical as the purveyors of this "bad lawsuit" theory implicity assume.]

An ouright (sic) lie. The rate being offered is higher than that offered to any other local government or territory.

The rate quite properly should be higher than anywhere else because it would cost the feds more to run a facility here than anywhere else DHS would do so. (There is no detention facility on the north coast of Alaska.) But according to the most recent GAO report and press accounts, DHS is still pushing a cost-based reimbursement regime rather than one based on fair market value and replacement cost/ alternative procurement cost.

These are all things the feds should have considered before rushing to take over federalization. The takeover was simply not well planned. DHS still hasn't gotten their guest worker regs issued! What the CNMI was doing all these years must have been harder than it looked to outsiders.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:46

The takeover was not rushed. It took over 10 years. Maybe the governor filing his brilliant lawsuit played a part in delaying the regulations. Who knows. I agree that is a problem. However it is only one problem. Most of the friction is caused by the Fitial Administration - the governor, Seimer, Willens, Kaipat and the others who are supporting the old system and refuse to follow federal law. Look at PL 17-1, for example.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, anonymous 9:46 is Siemer.

Anonymous said...

What difference does it make if it is Siemer or Bucky or Baka? The exchanges are pretty good to read and informative with details and facts, not spin.

Anonymous said...

Providing arguments on both sides of an issue allows people to make up their own minds about who is right and who is wrong, promoting sound public discourse.

Understanding opposing viewpoints is important, if for no other reason than that rehearsing the other side's arguments also prepares one to meet them head on. (Another reason is that mutual understanding builds community and respect for each other.)

Fortunately Wendy realizes this and does not censor too much here, unless for incivility or ad hominem personal attacks. Or very occasionally a contrary argument that she strongly disagrees with.