The Assistant Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Ulugia Niuia Aumua, has denied reports that some Prison officers had been fired as a result of the prison break just before last Christmas.
Ulugia was contacted to confirm claims that a couple of Prison officers had been let go due to carelessness which led to the break out.
“We have no Corrections Officers whose services have been terminated as your sources have told you,” he said.
The Assistant Commissioner was also asked about their decision to release prisoners on parole during the festive season.
Last year, the Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Ti’alavea Tionisio Hunt, told the Samoa Observer that the new law prohibits certain inmates from being released on the weekend parole and holiday parole.
“This law applies to those who are convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual connection, rape, incest, burglary and robbery.
“The Minister explained, before the new Act was approved in 2016, the prisons received a copy of the drafted Bill and that’s the one they have been using all along.
“The draft allowed for convicted murderers to be released on weekend parole.
“However when the law was passed, no one bothered to give the Prison Authorities a copy which indicates the amendments,” explained the Minister.
Now during the festive season, the Samoa Observer was told that there were prisoners who were jailed for murder, manslaughter, burglary, robbery, incest and rape, who spent the holidays with their families.
According to Ulugia, such prisoners were being released as part of their rehabilitation and reintegration programme.
“For your information, regardless of the offence, the prisoners have to meet a certain requirement such as the length of time served, the nature of the offence, response to the rehabilitation programs, conduct and behaviour and whether his/her classification is low security,” said Ulugia.
“One last check if there had been reconciliation, the Pulenuu is contacted to ask if there are any issues if the prisoner comes back to his family.
“All these criteria also form part of our classification process and once the prisoner meets all these criteria, he/she has to provide a sponsor with contact details, the sponsor is contacted and sought their agreement to have the prisoner home.
“There have been cases where families have declined to have their relative home and this is respected.
“According to Prisons and Corrections Act 2013, one of the Guiding Principles of this Act which we comply with is: 3. Guiding principles under this Act - When interpreting or applying a provision of this Act, and when carrying out duty, power or function, all persons must:
(a) ensure that prisons are managed in accordance with Samoan tradition, culture and community values, and in such a manner as will facilitate the return to ordinary life in the Samoan community of a prisoner when released from prison;
“We are required to provide safe and secure custody of prisoners, Rehabilitation and reintegration so the prisoners are released as better citizens with the hope of reducing reoffending.”
Ulugia informed the public that Uili Manuleleua is still at large.
“Uili Manuleleua is still at large and both Police and S.P.C.S. are following information received on this prisoner.
“I ask the public not to approach him if recognized, but contact the nearest Police Station.”