CNMI Legal News

June 22, 2010

CNMI Department of Corrections Commissioner, Ramon Mafnas known for his "in-you-face" style, has a message for federal officials:
If Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley or any federal agency for that matter has no confidence in the CNMI Department of Corrections’ ability to detain federal detainees, they can work with the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Marshals Service to remove all federal detainees from the CNMI Department of Corrections and detain them in Los Angeles or Honolulu,” Mafnas said.
He was apparently upset because a federal judge clearly ordered accused child-rapist Tyron Farley Reyes Fitial to be held without any form of release. Previously, the CNMI DOC has allowed violent criminals such as the former commissioner Dolores Aldan's husband, Vicente Aldan, to have weekend furloughs.  The DOC also allowed a federal prisoner who was ordered to be held with no bail to be released to give the governor a massage.  Why wouldn't a judge or a federal law enforcement official make it clear in an order what conditions a prisoner is to be held?

From the Marianas Variety:
Federal detainees are under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service but are being detained at local prison facility. 
Corrections welcomes objective and constructive criticism, Mafnas said, “rather than…provocative speech and innuendos uttered by certain federal official and conveniently penned by you in your news articles,” Mafnas said. 
When sought for comment, O’Malley said: “I’m pleased to hear Commissioner Mafnas understands the court’s order clearly. There had been confusion on prior occasions.”

For his part, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Don D. Hall said: “I believe the comments made in court were merely to help avoid any misunderstanding and to avoid any contention between the local government and the federal government.”

“The U.S. Marshals Service currently has a very amenable relationship with the CNMI Department of Corrections,” Hall said.

“We feel that housing our detainees locally is a benefit to the detainee, the local government as well as the federal government. We are all trying to work together as a team to make this a beneficial relationship for everyone involved,” Hall added.

There are some 15 federal detainees at the local prison.
I think Mafnas was wrong to suggest that the federal government officials made "provocative speech and innuendos" concerning the lax treatment at the DOC.   In act, the federal officials have made their stand on releasing federal prisoners very clear.

In April 2010 the CNMI and Federal Government were set to re-negotiate the terms for the Federal Government to use the CNMI detention facility to house federal prisoners. An agreement could not be reached. According to a 2010 GAO report:
ICE has been unable to conclude negotiations with the CNMI government to arrange access to detention space in the CNMI correctional facility. In March 2010, ICE estimated that it required 50 detention beds for its CNMI operations. Under a 2007 intergovernmental service agreement between the U.S. Marshals Service and the CNMI Department of Corrections, the CNMI adult correctional facility in Saipan provides the U.S. government 25 detention beds at a rate of $77 per bed per day. As of September 2008, less than 30 percent of the facility’s beds (134 of 513) were filled. 
To obtain needed detention space, ICE proposed to either amend the 2007 U.S. Marshals Service agreement before it expired on April 1, 2010, or establish a new agreement with the CNMI government.  As of March 2010, after a year of negotiation, ICE had not finalized an agreement with the CNMI government owing to unresolved cost documentation issues, according to a senior ICE official. 
• In March 2009, ICE officials initiated discussion with the CNMI government regarding needed detention space and requested that CNMI representatives complete a jail service cost statement. 
• In October 2009, representatives from the CNMI provided an incomplete jail service cost statement. The statement did not include capital construction costs, and CNMI representatives informed ICE officials that all estimates were preliminary and that the statement would require additional review. 
• In November 2009, a CNMI official provided ICE with an e-mail containing top-level cost estimates, including capital and operating costs totaling approximately $107 per day. 
• In December 2009, ICE requested additional documentation for the construction costs, and the CNMI Attorney General provided a second jail service cost statement with a further breakdown of the CNMI rate of $107 per day.79 An ICE assessment of the CNMI statement deemed that the CNMI had miscalculated certain costs and, after recalculating these costs, proposed a bed rate of approximately $89 per day. 
• In January 2010, according to ICE officials, the CNMI acknowledged calculation errors but did not agree to a bed rate lower than $105. 
Since January 2010, negotiations between ICE and the CNMI regarding detention space have been on hold. According to the ICE contracting official, the CNMI has not provided any additional information supporting its $105 rate. Before contracting for beds, ICE requires documentation that establishes a fair and reasonable cost. According to the CNMI Attorney General, further documentation for the $105 rate is not necessary because the commonwealth is negotiating as an equal partner rather than as an applicant submitting cost proposals to DHS. ICE officials noted that although they had briefed the DHS Office of Policy on this operational challenge, ICE had remained responsible for the negotiations because of its expertise.  ICE officials also observed that the CNMICNMI while removal proceedings are under way: 
1. Issue orders of supervision. Since November 28, 2009, ICE has released 43 detainees into the CNMI community, including 27 with prior criminal records, under orders of supervision. According to ICE officials, orders of supervision are appropriate for detainees who do not present a danger to the community or a possible flight risk. 
2. Pay to transport detainees to other U.S. locations. ICE can transport detainees to another detention facility, such as in Guam or Honolulu. Guam’s correctional facility charges $77 per day.84 As of March 1, 2010, ICE had paid approximately $5,000 to transport two detainees to Guam and one to Honolulu.
3. Pay CNMI’s daily rate at Saipan correctional facility. ICE may pay the CNMI’s $105 daily rate for each detainee, if the CNMI provides appropriate documentation justifying its proposed rate. 
In addition, because ICE has been unable to conclude its negotiations with the CNMI Department of Corrections, ICE cannot conduct immigration removal hearings for persons currently serving time in the CNMI corrections facility. As of March 1, 2010, ICE identified 26 CNMI prisoners serving criminal sentences in the local CNMI correctional facility for removal proceedings. In general, ICE attempts to conclude removal proceedings before inmates are released, in order to expedite removals and avoid additional detention costs, according to ICE officials. However, the CNMI Department of Corrections will not permit ICE to conduct immigration hearings at the facility unless ICE agrees to pay utility and access fees to establish video conferencing services in the CNMI prison. Officials with the CNMI correctional facility proposed a fee of $84 per day for utilities and to allow video conferencing hookups. According to an ICE official, ICE has agreements with other federal and state prisons in other U.S. locations to hold immigration hearings while inmates are incarcerated and has installed video-conferencing equipment, free of charge, to allow inmates to participate in their immigration proceedings while in custody.
The footnotes in the report reveal how uncooperative CNMI officials have been in the negotiations.

Violent Rapist Rabauliman Already Had Parole
DOC Commissioner Mafnas clarified a previous story that stated that kidnapper and rapist Jose Olopai Rabauliman was to have a parole hearing to determine whether he would be released early. The hearing scheduled for June 25th is not a parole hearing since, according to Mafnas, the criminal already had been released on parole in 2008!

Rabauliman was returned to prison after violating parole and the upcoming hearing is to determine whether the violent sexual offender is released again or not.  This man served less than 1/3 of his 30 year sentence, got out early, and violated parole. He should not be allowed out again.

In November 2008 Jose Rabauliman graduated from the Northern Marianas Trade Institute.  I am unsure if that was a condition of his early release or parole, but for some other prisoners who were released earlier this year attending the institute was a condition of their parole.

No Educational Sessions At Juvenile Detention Center for Five Months
The Saipan Tribune reports that there have been no teachers or educational program at the Juvenile Detention Center for five months. Have more federal laws been violated?

In February 2008 Department of Community and Cultural Affairs (DCCA)  deputy secretary Melvin Fiasao asked PSS for help in providing a teacher for the center. DCCA oversees the Kagman Juvenile Detention Center and Corrections Facility.  From the Saipan Tribune:
DCCA deputy secretary Melvin Faisao told Education Commissioner David Borja that DCCA has done extensive research and found that the Federal Mandates for Special Education in Juvenile Corrections summarizes three seminal federal laws, focusing primarily on the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT or IDEA.

Faisao explained that IDEA is “landmark civil rights legislation because it guarantees free appropriate public education for all eligible children and youth with disabilities through age 21.”

IDEA applies to public schools and state-operated programs, including juvenile detention and confinement facilities since its passage in 1975.

In addition to IDEA, Faisao said, “Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Education Act prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities by any program or activity that receives federal funds including correctional facilities.”

He added that the ADA and Section 504 apply to juvenile correctional facilities to the extent that students with disabilities are excluded from appropriate education service or are excluded from school for misbehavior that may be related to the students' disability, or to the failure of the school program to meet the students' needs.

Faisao noted that since PSS is a grantor recipient of IDEA, DCCA is seeking its help in this matter.
Has the CNMI government violated law or funding requirements by not providing for education at the center for five months?  How did this lapse occur?


Anonymous said...

Luckily there's probably no chance the Governor will want a massagee from Rabauliman.

Anonymous said...

Rabauliman was paroled because the presiding judge reduced his sentence in 2008, nearly eight years after his conviction. It's highly questionable whether the judge even had jurisdiction to consider such a motion. Lowering his sentence allowed Rabauliman to argue that he had already served a third of his term, and the parole board let one of our worst offenders back out on the street to prey on innocent victims.

Anonymous said...

no big surprise when it's naraja