The Department of Corrections might fall under closer scrutiny with cuts to the funding of 19 vacancies and food service contract.


“The $2.7 million cut for the vacancies reduces our ability to recruit and fill positions that are necessary to running the facility safely; several of these positions were only recently left vacant through retirement, transfer, resignation or adverse action,” said DOC Director Jose San Agustin.


“Even without the departures that created those vacancies, we were already short manpower, which is why we requested funding for personnel at that level.”


San Agustin also noted his concern that while senators tried to provide funding through special funds to cover the inmate food services contract, their efforts fall short of the $1.7 million cut they made.


“It’s disconcerting that they would think to cut funding at all for Department of Corrections,” the director said. “I thought they understood that we’re working really hard to make sure we meet standards — to keep our community safe AND address the federal government’s concerns.”


These last few months, community leaders, including Vice Speaker Cruz have been working together remove the DOC from under federal scrutiny.


“I don’t understand why they think this is OK but as the governor said, if this is all they’re going to give us, then we will make it work,” he added.


Governor Eddie Baza Calvo said he’s looking to the Legislature to help the various departments fill in the gaps caused by the Legislature’s budget.


Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., who was one of 13 senators who voted to pass this budget bill, oversees the island’s safety agencies. DOC wasn’t the only safety agency that had received cuts despite a conservative yet sensible budget.


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