Police assure public safety in prison move

The Police have made plans for the safe transfer of prisoners from Tafa'igata to their new home at Tanumalala when the new prison is opened at the end of the month.

The assurance comes from Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, who admitted there is a lot to consider but assured that the Police "are on it".

"It’s a very big event," he said. "We have 300 plus prisoners over at Tafaigata that needs to be moved and it takes about 40 minutes to be moved from Taf'aigata to Tanumalala and there’s a lot of things we need to consider. 

"Without going into detail, we do have a plan and we are definitely involved in that; heavily, heavily involved in the transportation of the prisoners from Tafa'igata to Tanumalala.

"We will not leave until that task is done."

Fuiavailiili said what's most important is everyone's safety especially with the Pacific Games next month.

"I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag but because I don’t want other criminal minds to know, but just rest assured that the police are on it and we are thinking, we’re very deep into the Pacific Games, preparing for the Pacific Games. 

"But also, we remember the recognisant and importance of this move. 

"So what’s decided of the powers that be, and we will ensure that whatever that decision is, that we’re going to go all the way that whatever happens, happens safely," he said.

Fuiavailiili said not only is he worried for the safety of his officers and the prisons employees, but also the inmates.

"I’m worried about security of the police, the safety of the prison employees, but also concerned for the safety of the prisoners, that they get there safely too, and that they are not mistreated as well. 

"These are people, these are Samoans, they’ve done wrong but still they are human beings. 

"They are someone’s father, brother, sister and all that so we have to be also respectful of that. But we are doing something about it and are heavily involved that day and I will be there as well," he said.

The Minister of Prisons and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed during an interview with the Samoa Observer that the new prison will officially open on 30 June 2019.

He said the inmates will be moved the very next day.

“The entire projects costs up to $25 million with additional funding provided by the supplementary budget to complete the project. 

“The work on the maximum security fence and the administration building is undergoing its tender process and the generators," he said.

The facility includes six cell blocks with four for male inmates, one for women, one for custody and a facility to hold high risk detainees.

This does not include administration building for prison staff, a medical clinic as well as a chapel with a high security fence also in the pipeline.  

The Tanumalala Prison is funded by a loan from the Unit Trust of Samoa, which will be repaid by funds from the Ministry of Police and Prisons Budget.

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