Security upgrades planned at State Hospital in wake of high-profile escape

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State officials on Wednesday unveiled several new planned security features for the Hawaii State Hospital facility that are intended to prevent patients like psychopathic killer Randall Saito from escaping.

Health department officials say a new state-of-the-art, $140 million building will soon be constructed on the upper campus of the aging Kaneohe facility. The building will the 70-year-old Goddard Building, which was demolished back in 2016.

"The new building is going to be completely secure, so obviously what happened in November will not happen with this facility," said Bill May, administrator for the Hawaii State Hospital, referencing Saito's escape.

Last November, Saito managed to walk away from the hospital, get on a plane to Maui and then eventually flee to California, triggering a manhunt that lasted several days.

The planned 144-bed addition will be enclosed by a 16-foot high fence. Patients can only enter and leave through a secured sally port, and all of the common areas will be monitored by video 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Preliminary construction is set to begin next month. The state hopes to have the building ready for use by 2021.

During a news conference on Wednesday, state officials declined to provide new details on how Saito managed to escape – or whether he had inside help.They say they're waiting for the findings of the state Attorney General's investigation, which will be completed in the next few weeks.

"I have been talking with the Attorney General to make sure we can complete it as soon as feasible. He assured me that they are making progress, but it needs to be done right," said Gov. David Ige.

A total of six staffers have been placed on paid leave pending the completion the investigation.

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