By Rachel Leber
CHALAN PAGO ORDOT, Guam — The Guam Department of Corrections (DOC) in Chalan Pago Ordot is rolling out many new programs for 2017 and 2018 to support its inmates. The goal of these programs includes rehabilitation and reintegration, and an attempt to lower the current 60 percent rate of recidivism in Guam, which makes it the highest in the nation.
The return of autumn brings a new therapeutic art program for Guam inmates. The new program will be offered in collaboration with the Guam DOC and the Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) in Hagatna, Guam. The artwork created in this program will be displayed in Guam’s first-ever exhibit of inmate artwork. The art exhibit will be the initial phase of the program to precede a microenterprise of art being created inside the prison, and then being marketed to the general public, according to Kate G. Baltazar, deputy director at the Guam DOC in her recent article with the Guam Pacific Daily News.
In 2018, the Guam DOC will also launch a number of programs designed specifically for its female inmates. The DOC will partner with the National Association of Women in Construction’s Guam Chapter to create an industry-standard certification program where female inmates will be introduced to and explore the ideas of “non-traditional” career paths for women, including jobs in the construction industry.
The women’s program will include a computer-based curriculum that will take place over eight to 10 weeks, with a final exam to complete the certification process. Additionally, psychoeducational classes — including anger management, self-esteem building, life skills and interview preparation — will begin in early 2018 as well, to enhance skills deemed critical for success by the Guam DOC.
While the DOC was already previously partnered with the Guam Trades Academy, the Guam Department of Public Works and the Guam Department of Labor to teach male inmates marketable skills for the construction industry, the program being launched in 2018 for women will be the first of its kind in Guam.
“Much attention has been on the Department of Corrections in recent months, and rightly so,” said Baltazar. “While we focus on the daily challenges of a round-the-clock operation ensuring public safety and security, we should not minimize the good that happens behind these barbed-wire fences. We are ever hopeful that we can change lives every day within our walls so that those behind them will eventually live life well beyond them.”