About those Prison Guards
In a story published in the Weekend Observer titled “P.M wants fit Prison guards”, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has slammed the poor management of the Tafaigata Prison as one of the reasons prisoners keep escaping. Tuilaepa has come up with a couple of solutions to end the problem. “My advice to the Minister is to remove Correction Officers who are like sumo wrestlers because they are weak. “They should get dropped off at Apia at 7:00am and they should run all the way to Tafa’igata,” said Mr. Prime Minister. In today’s Street Talk, our reporter, Ulimasao Fata, asked people about their views on the matter. This is what they said:
Amaoso Lilomaiava Tulolo, 63, Fuailolo’o Mulifanua
I strongly support what the Prime Minister said. I have seen the Police Officers and the Correction Officers they are all fat, and that was the first thing that came to my mind last week when I saw these other officers driving the prison vehicles. How will they catch prisoners if they decide to run away? Our correctional officers are all big and they really need to lose some of that weight. I bet these correction officers can’t chase any prisoner because they are big and weak, while prisoners are getting fit from the work they do.
If you look at overseas countries, correction guards are really fit and I also think fitness should be one of the requirements needed when applying for a job at the Prison.
So’o Vili, 50 Fasito’o-Uta
What the Prime Minister said was so stupid. He is just saying that but he doesn’t have any idea of what is going on in there. I don’t think that’s the real issue there, the real problem here is that Guards are not doing their job with honesty. I think there is something going on in there like Guards befriending prisoners and that is why they keep escaping. I think the Guards are the ones behind these prison breaks. I am saying this because it’s not new and it has been happening so many times now.
One thing they should do is separate the prisoners, and do not mix them all in one room; the young prisoners should not be around those with serious offenses because when young prisoners get along with the old prisoners, I assure you they will not learn anything good.
Pu’efua Emosi Suluafi, 56 Fuailolo’o Mulifanua
I don’t disagree with what the Prime Minister has said, but to me I think the prison is not safe.
I really think the number of Correction officers and Guards there at Prison are not enough, compared to the number of prisoners.
Prisoners have increased and the number of guards is not enough. I am saying this because I visited the place back in 2010 and what I saw were three guards guarding a group of more than 10 prisoners when they go out for work.
So I don’t think the size of the correction officers is quite the problem somehow because I think it’s the number of guards on every duty that’s not enough, because if each prisoner has a guard, then I don’t think a prisoner will be able to escape.
Peteru Taoipu, 53 Fasito’o-Uta
I do agree with what the Prime Minister said about our Prison guards and correction officers.
We have also witnessed some of them who are not suitable for the job because of the way they look.
Prison guards are for those who the prisoners are really scared of because of their built, but not fat. Prisoners keep escaping because Correction Officers can’t do anything to them and they can’t run to catch them.
I also believe that our Prison needs repair works and renovation to keep the prisoners inside.
I also believe the Government should be feed them well so they won’t do any stupid thing like escaping from prison.
Seiloa Mata’u, 40 Falelauniu
I don’t think I support what the Prime Minister said. For me, I think prisoners keep escaping because our prison is not safe. The facilities are not locking up the prisoners well because anyone could climb out of the fence surrounding the place.
Our Government should look at the condition of the prison because that looks like a normal place and not a prison with hard bars, and towers securing the whole prison premises.