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Inmate Disturbance at HCCC Quickly Quelled

June 5, 2021, 11:11 AM HST
* Updated June 5, 11:53 AM
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Order was quickly restored after inmates in a housing module at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center (HCCC) started a disturbance Friday evening.

According to a press release from the Department of Public Safety today, officials implemented a lockdown after inmates in one housing module started a disturbance at approximately 7 p.m. on Friday, June 4.

The facility emergency response security team was given approval to use non-lethal means to gain compliance, the release stated. The situation was contained by 9 p.m. without further incident.

“Staff followed their training to quickly restore order and prevent the situation from escalating,” said PSD Director Max Otani.

Hawai‘i Police Chief Paul Ferreira confirmed HPD’s South Hilo Patrol responded to assist jail staff, saying they were called to respond at about 7:26 p.m. due to some unruly inmates causing a disturbance.

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Officers took up positions on the outside perimeter of the facility, Ferreira explained.

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“HCCC safe(ly) engaged the inmates and was able to quell the disturbance,” the chief told Big Island Now on Saturday. “Our officers were relieved by officers from the Sheriff’s department that responded.”

Facility health care staff evaluated the inmates for possible injuries. There are currently no reports received of any major injuries to inmates or staff. Damage is still being assessed, but preliminary reports indicate inmates broke plexiglass windows and started a small fire that was quickly extinguished.

Tommy Johnson, PSD’s Deputy Director for Corrections, is in Hilo assessing the damage.

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“All HCCC staff on duty, and many who came to the facility to assist their co-workers, are to be commended for effectively and professionally bringing order to the module during these trying times,” said Tommy Johnson, Deputy Director for Corrections. “I also want to thank the Sheriffs and Hawaii Police for coming to the facility and offering their assistance.”

The cause of the unrest is under investigation and inmates will be questioned. Any inmates found culpable will be criminally and administratively charged.

The housing module is located on the Punahele Street side of the facility and houses inmates who are awaiting trial.

This incident occurred just over a week after HCCC staff extinguished a fire started in a cell in the Punahele housing unit.

According to DPS officials, the fire was started at around 7:35 p.m. Hawai‘i Fire Department (HFD) assisted with clearing smoke. HCCC is working with HPD and HFD to investigate the cause of the fire.

No inmates or staff were hurt. The inmates in that housing unit were brought outside while the smoke was cleared and they were brought back in.

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