Deceased inmate's family questions why he wasn't medically relea - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Deceased inmate's family questions why he wasn't medically released

James Plfueger James Plfueger
David Tautua David Tautua
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

James Pflueger was sentenced to seven months behind bars for reckless endangerment for his role in the Ka Loko Dam tragedy where seven people died. After six weeks in custody he was released because of his poor health.

At the same time James Pflueger was being medically released from prison another inmate was dying of cancer and his mother wasn't allowed to visit him behind bars. Now the family is questioning why they didn't get the same treatment.

"In particular there is a perception of favoritism or at least wealth being able to get some favors that others may not be able to get," said State Senator Will Espero, (D) Senate Vice President and Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee Chair.

David Tautua died November 22. That day his own mother wasn't allowed to visit him because she wasn't on the schedule.

"It was an unfortunate mix-up I guess because the officers probably thought she was there for a regular visit," said Ted Sakai, Department of Public Safety Director.

There are also factors to consider for medical release. One, if the person is still a risk to the public and two if he has an appropriate place to stay. In Tautua's case he had stabbed his wife in the neck while she had a restraining order against him. She survived the attack. He also had a violent past.

Tautua had served six of his ten years for attempted murder and was eligible for parole. The prison says when he went to hospice they tried contacting his relatives and even searched social media but couldn't find the family.

"Because we couldn't find a suitable placement for him he died before we could even consider the case," said Sakai.

As for why Tautua's mother wasn't allowed to visit her son on his death bed? Security guards didn't know the severity of his health.

"That's something we need to look at and see if we can tie up in terms of communication," said Sakai.

"We'll certainly see where we can make some changes or make some improvements," said Sen. Espero. "If an individual is dying I think the majority of Hawaii's residents feel he should be able to see his parents one last time."

Director Sakai says about 12-15 people a year apply to be medically released and that the majority are granted, but it has nothing to do with wealth or special treatment.

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