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Overcrowding at HCCC Forces Transfer of 40 Big Island Inmates to O‘ahu Facility

July 27, 2021, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated July 27, 3:35 PM
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For the second time in less than six weeks, dozens of sentenced felons incarcerated on the Big Island were transferred to an O‘ahu prison in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center.

On Tuesday, July 27, the Department of Public Safety (PSD), with the assistance of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, transferred 20 inmates from HCCC and 20 from Kulani Correctional Facility to Halawa Correctional Facility.

“Moving these sentenced felons helped to free up more space for the pre-trial custodies at HCCC,” said PSD Director Max Otani. “We couldn’t have done this without the coordination and collaborative relationship with our federal, executive and judicial partners.”

The prisoners were transported on two CH-47F helicopters earlier today without incident. Several adult corrections officers and deputy sheriffs provided in-flight and ground transport security.

“The Hawai‘i National Guard has worked with the Department of Public Safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Ken S. Hara, Adjutant General, Hawaii National Guard. “This is an example of one state department successfully partnering with another. This transport mission is critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i’s prison system.”

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HCCC has an operating capacity of 226. According to the July 12 PSD bi-monthly population report, the jail was housing 262 inmates.

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On June 17, 28 HCCC inmates were flown on two charter flights and moved to various O‘ahu facilities. According to the June 7 bi-monthly report, 344 inmates were being housed at HCCC.

Only inmates who have been vaccinated, and/or tested negative prior to transport, and deemed medically cleared to travel, were considered. Halawa placed the newly admitted inmates in an intake quarantine, which is in line with PSD’s Pandemic Plan and based on DOH and CDC guidelines for correctional facilities.

“The National Guard and PSD’s Deputy Sheriffs, along with ACOs and health care staff from OCCC, HCF, HCCC and the Kulani Correctional Facility all worked together to provide a successful and safe air and ground transport,” stated Tommy Johnson, Deputy Director for Corrections. “I want to give a big Mahalo to everyone for all their hard work and for helping to expedite this necessary transport.”

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The Department of Public Safety (PSD) continues to encourage all staff and inmates to voluntarily receive the COVID vaccination. For more information on PSD’s planning and response to COVID-19, inmate testing data, and information detailing the efforts made to safeguard the inmates, staff and public, click here

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