Big Island Coronavirus Updates

State Supreme Court Orders Release of OCCC Prisoners

August 17, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated August 17, 11:54 AM
A
A
A

Google images.

Several prisoners will be released from O‘ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), some as soon as Wednesday, as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through the prison population and staff alike.

The Hawai‘i Supreme Court on Sunday ordered the release of all prisoners inside OCCC being held on misdemeanor charges, except for those whose offenses involve domestic abuse. To be released, detainees must test negative for COVID-19 and display no symptoms that might indicate infection. Those who are sick and meet the requirements for release will be set free once they’re deemed no longer contagious.

In its published decision, the state’s highest court said the viral outbreak inside OCCC places inmates and those who work at the jail at risk, as well as their families and the community at large. The current community spread in Hawai‘i is among the worst in the country, with thousands of cases reported through the first half of August alone.

Those statistics have been worsened by the viral surge inside the facility, where more than 200 cases had been identified as of Sunday, including at least 170 prisoners and at least 30 staff members.

All released prisoners will be ordered to observe a mandatory, 14-day self-quarantine. Critics of the move have cited high recidivism rates among those detainees previously released early in the name of suppressing COVID-19 spread, noting that several have committed repeat offenses once set free.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

As of Sunday, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court had not issued release orders for any neighbor island correctional facilities due to the current surge of coronavirus, which is largely centralized on O‘ahu.

Comments

This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments

Newsletters

Get a quick summary of what’s happening on the Big Island with our daily & weekly email of news highlights.