Significant numbers of Samoans in Tafuna Prison

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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AMERICAN SAMOA: Commissioner of Public Safety, Le’i Sonny Thompson.

AMERICAN SAMOA: Commissioner of Public Safety, Le’i Sonny Thompson.

Samoa inmates represent the second highest number of ‘foreigners’ being incarcerated at Tafuna Correctional Facility in American Samoa.   

This is according to the Commissioner of Public Safety, Le’i Sonny Thompson in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. 

As of September 27, 2017, there are 73 Samoa national inmates, over a third of the 193 inmates housed at T.C.F.

According to the Commissioner, the American Samoa Government has appropriated $100,000 for T.C.F. food and supplies through Department of Public Safety. 

“Private Citizens and lawmakers usually drop off raw produce at T.C.F. to assist with their sustenance throughout the year when they are in season. (i.e. Ulu, Taro, Banana, etc). 

“The cost of maintenance per inmate regardless of ethnic background is estimated around $35/per day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

“However, D.P.S. incurs significant debt from the hospital and other specialized facilities when inmates seek medical assistance,” said Thompson.  

 He told the Samoa Observer the financial burden was placed on the sponsor but there were instances when inmates being housed were overstayers because sponsors withdraw their sponsorship or inmates couldn’t be located. 

“So, the question is who carries the tab? 

“Well, more often than not they charge Departments of Public Safety - T.C.F. 

“The same goes for immigration inmates who have court cases pending and seek medical attention. 

“It’s been an ongoing dialogue and we’re working to streamline these processes so D.P.S. don’t get overwhelmed with the financial burden,” Le’i said.  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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