Maui News

MCCC Struggles Over ʻExtreme’ Staff Shortage 

August 25, 2019, 9:20 PM HST
* Updated August 25, 9:37 PM
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Over the past two weeks, staffing shortages at the Maui Community Correctional Center prompted cancellations of weekend visits for inmates. 

While there were no cancellations this weekend, Department of Public Safety director Nolan Espinda warns that there could be more cancellations in the future. 

“The past two weekends were really, really, bad. We anticipate that is going to continue,” Espinda said during a briefing with the Senate Ways and Means and Public Safety committees on Tuesday at the University of Hawai’i Maui College.

No other correctional facilities in the state experienced any visit cancellations in the past four years, according to Espinda. 

Thirty-six of the 167 adult correctional officer positions at MCCC are currently vacant. There were 72 applicants in March, but only five of them passed the physical agility test in June. 

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During the meeting, Sen. Roz Baker asked Espinda how he plans to fill the vacancies. 

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“You certainly outlined some of the issues. I’m wondering what your solutions are in addition to just getting more money from the legislature,” Baker demanded. 

Espinda responded by stating that the department has “developed a more aggressive recruitment philosophy.”  

“It is not for a lack of effort on the department’s part to fill these positions,” Espinda said. 

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According to Espinda, these efforts include new radio and television advertisements as well as revisions to the 100-question written examination. 

Baker suggested meeting with correctional officers and listening to their concerns to improve working conditions. 

“Thatʻs what I wanted you to say. I did not hear that,” Baker said. 

Volunteer officers from outer islands will help cover MCCC staff beginning in September.

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