Department of Public Safety COVID-19 Procedural Updates
Below is a Department of Public Safety informational and procedural update for March 20, 2020.
No inmates have met PUI (Persons Under Investigation) criteria for COVID-19. (Note: schedules and information included in this news release are subject to change at a moment’s notice as the overall situation and the State’s response to COVID-19 evolve day-by-day.)
Correctional Facility Entry
As part of the Department of Public Safety’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, Hawaiʻi correctional facilities are implementing enhanced screening at entry points. Currently the facilities have signs posted warning people not to enter if they exhibit symptoms, have traveled outside of Hawaiʻi in the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has the confirmed virus. The enhanced screening, which includes no-touch temperature check of all entering the facilities, is being phased in to eventually include all facilities throughout the state.
All Hawaii correctional facilities are expanding the outside visitor suspension to include entry by volunteers, effective immediately, and until further notice. Attorneys are still allowed to come in-person to see their clients, but they will undergo enhanced screening and be asked to practice social distancing. Vendors and contractors providing inmate health and safety products and services will also go through enhanced screening. Anyone exhibiting symptoms will be restricted from entering.
In-person visitation at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona is suspended until further notice. Video visits may be offered by churches from around the state for families to connect with their incarcerated loved ones. We ask that families contact the locations for the latest schedule updates, prior to appearing in person.
“The Department recognizes the value of visitation and the services that volunteers provide, however we must make the difficult decision in order to protect the health and wellness of all who live in, work in, and visit our state prisons and jails,” Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda said in a press release.
“We are implementing some alternative measures to accommodate inmates during this temporary situation”.
These extra measures include:
- Increased phone call duration – Inmates are already afforded an unlimited number of personal calls per day. The personal call duration will be increased to allow up to 30 minutes per call.
- Increased out of cell time – Inmates will be afforded extra out-of-cell and recreation time, as staffing levels allow.
- Increased access to store orders/commissary.
Work Furlough Program
Job-seeking and resocialization passes are suspended until further notice.
Hawaiʻi Paroling Authority
The Hawaii Paroling Authority (HPA) board is suspending all parole hearings for two weeks, effective immediately. Hearings are scheduled to resume on April 3.
Signs have been posted outside for parolees and inside for HPA staff with the latest updates. An information hotline is being established for the general public.
HPA employees have been informed and signs have been posted with the following current office procedure changes:
- The Hawaiʻi Paroling Authority waiting room areas are closed. All parolees are instructed to sign-in at the reception window and wait outside until called back in for his or her appointment.
- Parole Officers will only conduct office contacts on their Duty Officer days, in the newly designated areas and have been instructed to emphasize telephone contact with parolees when possible.
- No travel permits via inter-island or US mainland will be approved for parolees at this time.
- Any parolees reporting symptoms of COVID-19, will be immediately referred to their doctor.
Correctional Facility Programs and Services
In an effort to limit possible exposure, each facility is addressing its unique programming needs accordingly. Each facility’s program schedules are subject to change at a moment’s notice, due to the rapidly evolving situation and the state’s response to COVID-19.
Correctional services such as: security, health care, food service, and facility operations/maintenance will continue as scheduled.
Essential medical specialist transports, hospital and emergency transports will continue as needed.
PSD Health Care Division Updates
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. No inmates have met PUI (Persons Under Investigation) criteria for COVID-19. Some prevention measures implemented include:
- Health Care staff have been 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.
- An educational video on COVID-19 has been shared with the facilities as well as the intake service centers. All current and new inmates are reviewing the video and receiving educational instruction on COVID-19, measures of prevention, and handwashing instructions.
- 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.
Health care staff have had continuous, open dialogue with the Department of Health, and facility staff are being briefed on the protocol as the situation changes day-by-day.
Staff have been reminded to frequently wash their hands and refrain from touching their faces, per CDC-recommended guidelines. 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.