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DPS Say Incident at HCCC Began With Contraband Search

September 9, 2020, 1:56 PM HST
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The Department of Public Safety said Wednesday that the upheaval Hawaii Community Correctional Center (HCCC) was started by inmates upset by a contraband search.

DPS said final reports are still being compiled by HCCC but that based on preliminary information, inmates started the disturbance after a shakedown search for contraband was conducted in their housing unit. There is no indication that overcrowding contributed to the cause, DPS said.

“Stopping contraband from entering any correctional institution is a continuous effort that our staff prioritize to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our staff, the community, as well as the inmates. The staff were doing their job to eliminate a suspected contraband pathway and the fact of the matter is, the inmates didn’t like it. Ultimately, it’s about safety of inmates, our correctional officers and civilian staff, and the public,” said Fred Hyun, Special Master to the Department of Public Safety (PSD).

One staff member was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released last night. Eight inmates were also transported to the hospital to be evaluated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. The inmates were all medically cleared and returned to the facility last night. Medical and mental health staff are circulating through the housing units to make sure all inmates who request a consult are seen.

Damage to the Waianuenue housing unit is still being assessed. Inmates broke windows and security screens, and set mattresses, plastic chairs and books on fire. There is also smoke damage from the fire and water damage from the activation of the sprinkler system. Cost estimates are pending the on-going damage assessment.

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Hawaii Police are currently conducting a criminal investigation and will make the determination on possible criminal charges. The internal investigation is ongoing.

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The inmates housed in Waianuenue are sentenced felons serving short prison sentences of less than 2 years.

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