Levaopolo says jail release is legal

Fofogamua Hawaii Lavea’s release was granted by the Ministry in accordance with the Prison’s Act, says Deputy Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Levaopolo Rosa Mene. 

Supreme Court Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson, sentenced Fofogamua to one year six months imprisonment after he was convicted of falsifying a certificate to register a matai title. 

Responding to questions from Samoa Observer, Levaopolo said the release of the prisoner was not illegal and was within their powers.

“The release of Lavea follows a request and as long as we can confirm the request is legitimate and accurate, we will grant it with the condition the prisoner will be escorted by a correction officer,” he said. 

The Ministry of Prison and Correction Services has come under a lot of criticism from members of the public for the release of inmates. But Levaopolo said the release was legal. 

 “It does not matter what crime the prisoner is convicted for, the fact is that the Ministry has the authority to release inmates with correction officer to escort them, so long as the request is confirmed. 

“Whether it is for a wedding, a funeral, birthday, any request is considered by ministry. Regarding Lavea, it was only for one day and it was this past Sunday and he was escorted by a correction officer. 

“His release was legal and again regardless what is the criminal conviction, under the law one must be escorted by a correction officer. He left Sunday and came back the same,” he said.

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