Waiawa corrections officer blames staffing shortage for escape.. - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Waiawa corrections officer blames staffing shortage for escape of four inmates

Waiawa Correctional Facility's Building 9 (lower center with brown roof) Waiawa Correctional Facility's Building 9 (lower center with brown roof)
Clockwise from top left: David Carvalho, Jr., George Thomas, Jordan White & Elijah Keakahumoku Clockwise from top left: David Carvalho, Jr., George Thomas, Jordan White & Elijah Keakahumoku
Jodie Maesaka-Hirata Jodie Maesaka-Hirata
Statement made by an anonymous employee Statement made by an anonymous employee

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A corrections officer at the Waiawa Correctional Facility says a staffing shortage contributed to the escape of four inmates over the weekend.

The L-shaped building next to the prison's main road is called Building 9. It houses about 100 of the roughly 300 inmates at the Waiawa Correctional Facility.

It's where convicted felons David Carvalho, Jr., Elijah Keakahumoku, George Thomas and Jordan White bolted from over the weekend. Corrections officers who work at Waiawa blame a staffing shortage.

But the head of Hawaii's prisons denies that, calling the manpower that night "adequate."

"They met their minimum staffing," Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, state Department of Public Safety director, said. "So we could have had another person, we could have had another three people, but it still could have happened. It could have occurred because it is an open facility, a big facility."

An adult corrections officer, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, says, previously, there were two guards assigned to Building 9 during the overnight shift, but that changed about a week-and-a-half ago.

"The public don't know that there's just one ACO for that building," he said. "Manpower was cut short because of budget cuts. We watch 100 inmates by ourselves."

"The shape of the building is L-shaped. Is it a challenge for one person to watch all corners of the building when it is in that configuration?" this reporter asked.

"They're in the center of that L, so they are where the doors are," Maesaka-Hirata said.

The four escapees were recaptured Monday night, capping a two-day island-wide manhunt. Since then, they've been in police custody awaiting charges.

"Once we have them back in custody, we will start our internal review with them," Maesaka-Hirata said. "I'm real curious myself as to what occurred that four of them decided that they were going to run."

Maesaka-Hirata wouldn't disclose how the inmates got out of Building 9, citing the ongoing investigation.

The corrections officer who spoke with us said the windows have no bars on them, and there's no razor wire on the six-foot-tall fence right outside. He says the escapees' bedding was bunched up to look like they were there sleeping.

"We have several inmates under investigation for this process as well," Maesaka-Hirata said. "I can't release a lot of that information right now."

Waiawa is a minimum-security facility. The four men were each charged with second-degree escape, and will now be housed at the more secure Halawa Correctional Facility.

 

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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