Hawai‘i Correctional Facilities Suspend Inmate Personal Visits

March 13, 2020, 12:27 AM HST · Updated March 13, 12:27 AM
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Effective today, March 13, 2020, and until further notice, all correctional facilities in Hawaiʻi will suspend inmate personal visits. At this point this action does not impact the continuation of other scheduled official and attorney visits.

Public Safety Department Director Nolan Espinda made the announcement saying, “We understand how important visits are to the inmates as well as their family members, but we also understand that COVID-19 may eventually be present at one of our facilities and that is why, out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending personal visits at our facilities statewide.”

“The health and safety of the public, our staff and the inmates they oversee is of paramount importance to us, and we are taking steps to protect them,” he said.

According to Espinda, the Department of Public Safety Health Care Division “has gone to great lengths to make sure a comprehensive plan is in place to safeguard the health of all inmates and staff in the correctional facilities.”

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As of Thursday, no inmates had met PUI (Persons Under Investigation) criteria for COVID-19.  Department officials say health care staff have an open dialogue with the Department of Health, and all facility staff have been fully briefed on the protocol.

Health Care staff have been making themselves available in the inmate housing units to answer questions from inmates.  Espinda said they are reminding the inmates of proactive ways they can help prevent the spread of germs, including covering their coughs and sneezes, frequent handwashing, sanitizing their common living areas, refraining from sharing cups and utensils with others, and limiting close contact.

Educational posters reinforcing good hygiene and germ prevention have been posted in all common areas. Inmates have also been reminded, if they aren’t feeling well, to report it immediately.

Recently, the PSD administration directed staff to increase the frequency of cleaning/sanitizing high-use areas within civilian offices and facilities, along with ensuring adequate access to cleaning materials and hand soap for all.  Daily emails with the latest COVID-19 information, guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and from the Hawaii Department of Health are being sent to all employees to keep everyone informed.

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