Public safety director grilled by lawmakers

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Apr 05 2013 07:02:10 AM HST

Public safety talks about OCCC murder in Hawaii, overcrowding and more.

HONOLULU -

Last month Cyril Chung was killed in the cell he shared with an inmate with a history of mental problems.

Joseph Tutui Junior was charged with beating Chung to death.  KITV has learned the men were kept in overcrowded conditions at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in cells that are about 80 years old.

OCCC was built with capacity of 600 inmates, but it averages 1,200 -- double what it should be.

And because some inmates have to be isolated, there are times when there are three to a cell.

"In the holding unit,as Senators Roz Baker and Will Espero will tell you, the cells are small.  They would not meet today's standards for a single cell, but because of the holding units and the load, most often the cells are doubled," said Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai.

Sakai told lawmakers Thursday that the longest time the inmates would beheld in those cells would be about 60 days.

Lawmakers also wanted to know what led accused murderer Teddy Munet to escape while being transferred to a hearing at Circuit Court in Honolulu.

"That, in itself, is a learning moment, because the inmates area is our care.  I don't want to pontificate, but I am hoping that policies will be learned from these incidents," said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria.

"Every time we have a critical incident we ask ourselves, what can we learn from this and what actions do we need to be taking as we go forward to make it better," Sakai said.

Sakai said in the last five years there have been 11 escapes -- seven were from secured facilities with two from Hilo and two from Maui.

There were ten from Waiawa, which is a medium security facility and there were 64 walkways from work release or furlough programs.

The good news is that there is just one outstanding escapee from a minimum security program.

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