Big Island Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Results Pending on HCCC Inmate

April 11, 2020, 6:03 AM HST
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Results are pending on a prisoner at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center who was recently tested for COVID-19.

According to Hawai‘i Public Safety Department, the HCCC inmate was showing symptoms of a respiratory illness and was tested. The individual has since been placed in medical isolation.

Eighty-five inmates in the Hale Nani Reintegration Center are quarantined as a precaution until the pending test result is received. Hale Nani is in a geographically separate location from the main HCCC location.

Discussions of inmate release from the state’s overcrowded facilities amid the COVID-19 crisis, continue in Hawai‘i Supreme Court. Special Master Daniel Foley, who is overseeing the conversation, filed an initial report and recommendations in response to the Office of the Public Defender’s petition to release prisoners from Hawai‘i’s overcrowded jails.

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According to the initial response, Foley asked for an updated list of names of inmates from each facility to enable OPD to clearly identify those prisoners considered for release on an individual basis.

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PSD is required to provide the list to the court no later than noon on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Inmates who qualify for potential release are the following:

  • Inmates serving a sentence (not to exceed 18 months) as a condition of felony deferral or probation.
  • Inmates serving sentences for misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor convictions.
  • All pre-trial detainees charged with a petty misdemeanor or a misdemeanor offense
  • All pre-trial detainees charged with a felony.

Anyone incarcerated on charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, first- or second-degree burglary, first- or second-degree robbery, abuse of family or household members or first- or second-degree unauthorized entry in a dwelling do not qualify for release.

Those who have violated temporary restraining orders or injunctions also do not fall in this category.

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From March 2 to April 9, 548 inmates have been released across all facilities. Of that total, 91 were released from HCCC, which is still over capacity by more than 100.

To alleviate some of the overcrowding, Gov. David Ige sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), asking for possible temporary transfer of select inmates to the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Honolulu.

BOP granted Ige’s request.

Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda also sent a letter to the FDC Warden requesting an update on the status of their 30-day inmate movement suspension, which expires April 13.

On April 8, the Department of Public Safety received an official response letter from the FDC Warden, agreeing to resume taking up to 100 PSD inmates, effective Monday, April 13, 2020.

“Further internal discussion and planning with the FDC is needed to coordinate movement. We will figure that out together in the coming days,” said Espinda. “We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Ige administration and Director Hara for sending the requests through federal channels, and express our extreme gratitude to the Federal BOP and the FDC Warden for their willingness to assist us with this temporary transfer during this unprecedented time.”

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