Judiciary seeks funding for electronic surveillance and pay raises | Guam News

There is a risk that Guam’s judiciary’s electronic surveillance program will not continue, or at least not continue as it should, without a credit being sought from the Guam legislature, according to the chief justice. of the Supreme Court of Guam, Philip Carbullido.

The judiciary is requesting about $37 million for the next fiscal year, including about $652,700 for the electronic monitoring program and about $1.6 million to fund salary adjustments in the law enforcement and police pay scales. others.

The electronic monitoring program, which is used for pretrial detainees, provides several benefits to the community, including savings for the Department of Corrections.

Since the cost of holding a defendant in jail is $130 a day, electronic monitoring saves the DOC about $2.3 million over a year with 50 participants. More participants will mean more savings on prisoner accommodation.

But 50 is the current cap, due to lack of funding, and the program is experiencing a growing waiting list, according to Kristina Baird, court administrator for the judiciary.

The Legislature appropriated $500,000 to start the program in 2019.

“While it took a while to get the program up and running, we are finally there. … We have, however, used all of the initial funds and the funds provided in fiscal year 2019,” Baird told lawmakers on Tuesday. .

“During our FY2022 budget hearing, we presented to this body that our initial funding would run its course in December 2021. Despite this announcement of reality, we have not received a separate appropriation for the fiscal year 2022,” she added.

The judiciary maintained the program by capping the number of participants and absorbing some operating costs.

Baird said probation officers were moved from other critical areas and placed into the electronic monitoring program as it grew, leading to labor shortages and impacting probation operations.

The $652,700 request for electronic monitoring is broken down into approximately $376,000 for personnel services, $269,000 for operating costs and $7,500 for utilities.

“A lot” has been said about the self-pay requirement for the electronic monitoring program, but it’s a “slippery slope that is riddled with potential lawsuits,” Baird said, adding that the majority of people who enter in the criminal justice system are indigent. to start.

“Not funding the program and expecting participants to pay lays the groundwork for the punishment of neediness,” Baird said.

The judiciary is also looking to fund salary adjustments with its budget request.

This was triggered in January by the governor’s executive order providing an 18% pay increase for certain executive law enforcement agencies, according to Baird. About one-third of the judiciary is made up of law enforcement officers.

The judiciary has expressed serious concerns about the loss of its officers to the executive, Baird said. The judiciary also considered internal fairness, the impact of the salary adjustment on law enforcement only and granting a modest raise to all employees, she added. The third principle of the review was the adaptation of the budget to salary adjustments.

“Ultimately, the administration presented to the Judicial Council the recommendation that is currently before that body, the 6% for our non-law enforcement employees and the 7% salary adjustment for our law enforcement,” Baird said.

These adjustments exclude judicial officers.

The judiciary has also slashed “reduced operating budget” costs to make salary adjustments a tax possibility, Baird said.

Although the executive order triggered the demand, other factors are pushing for salary adjustments, she added.

The first is the law which imposes annual internal equity reviews and external competitiveness reviews every three years.

Baird said the judiciary was losing employees to Guam self-government and federal government agencies.

Inflation is also a factor pushing wage adjustments, she added.

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