Prison wall and temporary seawalls on the agenda for Fono Special Session
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Legislation appropriating funds for the construction of a new prison security wall and temporary seawalls are among the proposals Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga plans to submit for Fono consideration during the 1st Special Session of the 36th Legislature set to convene Oct. 3rd and close Oct. 17th.
Lolo submitted a letter calling for the special session late last week to Fono leaders, outlining items to be considered. “I am confident that you and your colleagues recognize the urgent need to consider” the important legislations during the special session, the governor wrote.
Both the Senate and House were made aware late last week of the upcoming special session, which begins right after the current legislative session ends on Oct. 2nd.
PRISON WALL AND SEAWALLS
Topping the list of the governor’s agenda for the special session is a proposed bill to provide funds for the construction of the “prison wall and temporary seawalls”.
Lolo first revealed these two proposals at last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, where the list of “Development Projects 2020-2021” was distributed and discussed in brief detail. On it was the Territorial Correctional Facility “Security Wall”. Total cost of the project was not mentioned, but Lolo told cabinet members that a bill will be sent to the Fono to appropriate funds for this Department of Public Safety project.
“We have looked at what needs to be done” to keep inmates from escaping from TCF, the governor said, adding that it’s “never ending that inmates” escape from confinement. He said a decision has been made, that a concrete wall will be constructed to surround the TCF to prevent inmates from escaping the facility, which currently has a steel fence.
He said any time an inmate escapes, there is serious concerns regarding the public’s safety. Lolo noted that there were past incidents of inmate escapes that resulted in cases being filed in court. (Samoa News notes that one of the infamous escapes occurred several years ago, when an inmate was charged with escaping from confinement and raping a female ASG contract worker living at the nearby ASG Tafuna Housing.)
Lolo’s development projects list also shows a few seawalls, including a “temporary seawall from Aua to Tula, Vatia, etc.”. The governor told cabinet members that there are many areas along this road in which erosion is at its worst, posing serious risk, and a temporary seawall is needed to try to “contain” the erosion until ASG can secure higher funding for highway improvement.
He said he and others have walked this stretch of the road and temporary seawalls are in urgent need; therefore, legislation will be sent to the Fono to fund this project, estimated to cost $3.5 million.
Other issues on the special session agenda include the confirmation of members to ASG boards/commission still pending in the Fono, as well as all pending legislation with both the Senate and House, and the FY 2020 budget.
As of last week Friday, both the Senate and House have completed the final approval process of the total $421.48 million FY 2020 budget. The House version of the budget bill has already been submitted to the governor for his review and approval before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1st.