Maui Jail Population Drops By 71 Inmates Over One Month
The jail population across the state has experienced a marked decrease in inmates as the Department of Public Safety finds ways to temporarily reduce the number of people in jails and prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between Feb. 24 and March 27, the inmate population, which has experienced problems with overcrowding in the past, decreased by 71 inmates from 449 to 378. Statewide, the prison population over the same period dropped by 356 inmates to 1889.
The Department reports that as of March 27, 2020 no inmates have met PUI (Persons Under Investigation) criteria for COVID-19; however, the department notes that it is “well aware of the risks of over-population and crowding” especially during the pandemic.
“We are taking proactive measures with our criminal justice partners, including the Office of the Attorney General, the Judiciary, County Prosecutors, Office of the Public Defender and the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority, to find ways to temporarily reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails, while keeping the overall safety of the community our top priority,” said PSD officials.
The department outlined the following measures it is taking to provide inmate population relief:
- To assist the Judiciary with their decision-making process, PSD submitted a list of those incarcerated as pre-trial and sentenced misdemeanants as well as those who are incarcerated as felony probationers.
- The Department of Public Safety has been working with Judicial partners to implement more video conferencing of arraignment and plea proceedings and bail motions. The video conferencing at OCCC has increased to three days a week. DPS is looking at possibly expanding to additional days. Since February 24th there has been a substantial decrease in the jail population. PSD attributes this in part to efforts by the Judiciary as they work with PSD to reduce the number of people in jails.
- PSD identified 52 inmates at the Hālawa Correctional Facility and 5 at the Women’s Community Correctional Center who will be completing their full sentence between March 28, 2020 and June 30, 2020. A list has been sent to the Hawaiʻi Paroling Authority for its consideration.
- The Hawaiʻi Paroling Authority is identifying all cases statewide that are approved for parole and pending a release date set by the HPA chair. HPA is working to expedite the verifications process for their approved release.
Summary of previous update information issued through March:
- HPA board suspended all parole hearings for two weeks. Hearings are tentatively scheduled to resume on April 3, 2020.
- All inmate work furlough passes and Hawaiʻi Correctional Industries outside community service work lines are suspended until further notice.
- All non-essential programming is temporarily suspended.
- (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.)
- Enhanced screening is implemented at entry points, including no-touch temperature checks and verbal health screening questions.
- Correctional facility entry suspensions include volunteers, non-essential program staff and personal inmate visitors. (Attorneys and vendors/contractors providing inmate health and safety products and services are still allowed).
- Increased inmate phone accessibility – Inmates are afforded an unlimited number of pre-paid and collect 15-minute personal phone calls. The personal call duration has been increased to allow up to 30 minutes per call.
- Free phone calls – GlobalTel Link is providing two, free, five-minute-long calls per week for the next four weeks.
“Health care staff have had continuous, open dialogue with the Department of Health and facility staff are being briefed on protocols as the situation changes day-by-day,” said PSD officials.
The department reports that staff have been reminded to frequently wash their hands and refrain from touching their faces, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended guidelines.