New information has surfaced in a disturbance reported at the Maui Community Correctional Center on Monday afternoon.
Officials with the Department of Public Safety say 42 inmates refused an order to return to their cells after rec time in the common area. The other 52 inmates reportedly complied.
The incident was reported just before 3 p.m. on Monday, March 11, 2019 at the facility located along Waiʻale Road in Wailuku.
“Inmates who refused the order began breaking fire sprinklers, which began shooting water out in the common area. Maintenance was informed to shut off the water system. Non-compliant inmates started a small fire in the common area and smoke drifted to an adjacent module where inmates there started a lesser disturbance,” said Toni Schwartz, Public Information Officer for the Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety.
Preliminary reports indicated that at about 4:24 p.m., MCCC staff and Maui Police began negotiations with inmates by way of the rec yard.
“Many inmates chose to voluntarily and peacefully exit the modules. At 4:49 p.m. MCCC staff make entry through the emergency exit door. At 5:15 p.m. all inmates were secured and accounted for. Staff then turned their attention to the second module that created a lesser disturbance. At 6:13 the inmates were evacuated and by 6:26 p.m. the situation was declared contained,” said Schwartz.
According to department reports, significant damage was sustained in the two modules. Damage estimates are pending.
According to Schwartz, no inmate injuries were reported, however county officials yesterday said there was reports of smoke inhalation. Three staff members were treated for minor injuries including an injured finger, a cut to one foot from shattered glass and skin irritation from pepper spray exposure. All were treated by medical staff and returned to duty, according to DPS.
The disturbance is under investigation internally by the Department of Public Safety as well as criminally by the Maui Police Department.
Staff are questioning inmates to determine who started the disturbance and why, according to Schwartz. “Once the inmates responsible for the incident are identified, they will be brought up on criminal charges as well as internal disciplinary action, pending the outcome of the investigations,” said Schwartz.
Clean up is underway in the modules. A facility-wide lockdown is still in effect until questioning and clean up are done.
“I want to thank and commend the correctional staff of MCCC for their professional, measured and effective response to this disturbance,” said PSD Director Nolan Espinda. “Their coordinated actions brought a potentially much larger situation under control while keeping themselves safe and the inmates secured throughout. We also want to thank the MPD and MFD for their quick and unequivocal support. All personnel involved in this multi-agency response have shown themselves to be the best that public service has to offer,” said Espinda.
PSD officials also credited the Maui Police and Maui Fire departments in providing much needed support saying they “aided greatly in the resolution and control of the situation.”
Public Safety’s Deputy Director for Corrections and Departmental Security Coordinator are heading to Maui to conduct the incident follow up, investigation and damage assessment.