Juvenile detention center to be relocated

The Ministry of Prison and Correction Services will relocate the juvenile detention center to Tanumalala, despite spending $9.6 million on land in Oloamanu.

Minister of Prison and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, told Samoa Observer that it is logical to move the detention center to Tanumalala.

“This is after thorough deliberation and due to the fact that it is much easier to access Tanumalala, we have opted to move the juvenile detention center.

“We anticipate relocating the juvenile center next year and to date it’s unclear what we will do for the land in Oloamanu. But it is only logical to move the center to Tanumalala,” he said.

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The main concern received from members of the public whose children are housed at Oloamanu, added Tialavea, is that the youth detention facility is further inland and too far for a lot of families.  

“To date we only have one minor incarcerated at Oloamanu and it is just too far inland, and we cannot continue this operation as its current location hence the move to relocate the center,” he said.

When he was asked why all these issues were not considered by the Government before investing millions in taxpayer funding, he said: “I don’t know as the juvenile center was established before I came on board. I honestly don’t understand why the juvenile center is based in Oloamanu, it is severely far to get to it and it’s located up in the mountains.”

There have been incidences of families getting lost while trying to locate the youth detention facility.

 “Many families have been lost in the area trying to locate the juvenile center. One family in particular took the bus, they walked all the way to Oloamanu, and it took them literally seven hours to get to the center.

“These are the complaints we have to consider, not every family has transport, and as parents we will do everything to help our children,” Tialavea added. 

The Minister said the new location at Tanumalala will give families at least an hour to drive up during visiting hours. “Another issue is the operation and how it is not feasible to have the operation going at the current location, especially it has been only one juvenile housed there for the last year or so. The data provided that juvenile center has a small amount of offenders.”

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