Furlough escapes on the rise

Furlough escapes on the rise

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A rash of walkaways from the state's work furlough program has state prisons officials on the defense.

"From the general public's perspective, one a week is too much," state Sen. Will Espero told Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda.

"Either they are not being vetted properly or mistakes are being made."

Last year, a total of 46 inmates were accused of escaping prison work furlough programs statewide. That's more than double the walkaways in 2012.

Many are apprehended within a few days but three this year were accused of committing new crimes while on the run.

Last month, OCCC walkaways Kalani Tavares and Robert Gibson were arrested after they allegedly kidnapped and robbed a Kaimuki resident.

Prisons chief Espinda said the rise in escapes comes as the state has expanded its work furlough program.

"With the increase in the numbers by more than double, there is a commensurate rise in the number of people who have walked away," said Espinda.

"Often times, it's as simple as an argument with a family member or a girlfriend. Often times, it's making bad choices after work, not being able to stay away from that pau hana beer."

Both Espero and Espinda are in favor of electronic monitoring  to keep better track of inmates when they are out on their jobs.

Espero said he also wants to change the rules so that inmates who are just a few hours late in reporting in aren't charged with escape, which could add five more years to their prison sentences.

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