Escapes prompt new security fears about troubled Maui jail

Escapes prompt new security fears about troubled Maui jail
Officials said the pair escaped through a broken door (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Maui inmates are back in custody Monday, but their brief escape is yet another black mark for the state Department of Public Safety.

One of the escapees ― Troy Diego ― is awaiting trial in a vehicle theft case. The other is: Barret Paman, 31, who is in custody for 25 counts of various gun, burglary and theft charges.

Officials said the pair escaped through a broken door with no alarm system at the Maui Community Correctional Center then hopped a fence.

The two will now face an added escape charge.

Sources say correctional officers had been writing reports to fix those doors for years and Department of Public Safety officials did nothing about it.

Hawaii News Now spoke with the wife of an MCCC adult correctional officer who wants to warn the community it is not safe.

“That is one of the many, the many safety issues in there that need addressing that have not been addressed,” she said. “They just get the 'it is what it is.'”

The woman asked to remain anonymous so her husband wouldn’t lose his job.

She said last month’s riot highlighted numerous safety issues at the jail, leaving her to fear for not only her husband’s safety, but the safety of everyone who works there.

“It’s been high anxiety every single day,” she said. “Are they going to come home tonight, are they going to be OK, are they going to get hurt?”

This comes at a critical time as the Public Safety director awaits his full confirmation hearing in the senate.

DPS officials said the dorm where the two inmates escaped from is a wooden structure that houses minimum and community custody inmates, the lowest security levels.

"The Department has acknowledged the need for updates to the structure and that is why that dorm has a CIP renovation project pending a start date by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). The renovation project would include new doors, and upgrades to the internal fixtures,” said Toni Schwartz, DPS Public Information Officer.

Schwartz said for now, MCCC is increasing security by installing an alarm system on the door and adding barbed wire to the perimeter fence line.

The woman Hawaii News Now spoke with believes that’s just putting a band-aid on the situation and wants elected officials to look at the root of the problem.

“It always comes from the top. If things are not working down at the bottom, that means something is not right at the top," she said. “I believe the Senate needs to look at that."

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