Improvements are underway to adhere to the November 2014 Court ruling that the conditions of Koror Jail’s solitary confinement violate Palau’s Constitution.
The ruling stemmed from a petition filed by inmate McClain Angelino, approved 19, who reported that he was held in solitary confinement for three-consecutive weeks where he was forced to urinate in plastic bottles and defecate in plastic bags.
Vice President and Justice Minister Antonio Bells requested the Ministry of Finance to allow the Bureau of Public Safety to overcharge on its account in order to complete the improvements. The request has since been approved.
Bells sought funding for two projects: the secure cell renovation and the halfway house project.
Secure cell or the solitary confinement renovation project includes the construction of a shower and bathroom facility, concrete bed for each of the cells, and new doors. Lighting fixtures will also be installed within the concrete ceiling and covered with rebar’s for protection.
The halfway house project, described as a “minimum security extension” of the jail began in August 2014. But funding for the project has since been exhausted.
In his December 30th letter to Finance Minister Elbuchel Sadang, Bells expressed urgency in completing both projects in order to comply with the Court’s ruling, and address congestion in the nation’s only jailhouse.
The halfway house project he said would allow the jail to relocate female inmates from the custody rooms in addition to guaranteeing that the juvenile rooms will not be used to accommodate adult females as practiced in the past.
According to information from the Justice Ministry, G&N Construction Company was selected to complete both projects within 60 days.
Work on both projects will reportedly begin this week. In the meantime, the solitary confinement quarters will not house any inmates until renovation work is completed.