Inmate unrest reported at OCCC, where number of COVID-19 cases has swelled to 200

Published: Aug. 16, 2020 at 7:54 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2020 at 7:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Growing tension at Oahu Community Correctional Center led to inmate unrest on Sunday, with detainees setting several small fires, Hawaii News Now confirmed.

The Department of Public Safety said Sunday that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections at the state’s largest jail had grown to 200 — 30 adult corrections officers and 170 inmates.

That figure spurred state Supreme Court justices to order that some non-violent detainees be released.

Also Sunday, at least partly in response to the rising number of infections, inmates started several small fires at the facility and there were other reports of damage.

In a statement, the DPS spokesperson said, “COVID-19 has created a tremendous amount of strain on our overcrowded facilities. Quarantine lockdowns, and cramped conditions, combined with the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak at OCCC translates to inmates becoming restless and agitated.”

The statement said on Saturday lunch was served late and inmates reacted by starting a fire which was quickly extinguished. DPS said they tried to ignite a second fire, but they were unsuccessful.

“Once meals were served, calm quickly resumed. There was no damage, injuries, or escalation evident,” the spokesperson said.

It happened again on Sunday, this time triggered by inmates agitated by the quarantine lockdown.

A small fire in a common area of the housing module was quickly put out. Two inmates damaged a toilet and a lighting fixture. They are being evaluated for minor injuries sustained as a result of breaking the items.

DPS says as a result, 40 inmates have been temporarily relocated to an outside recreation area while the damage is assessed and cleaned up.

The situation is under investigation and inmates found culpable will be criminally charged.

“All staff on duty are to be commended for effectively and professionally keeping the situation under control during these trying times,” DPS concluded.

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