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As COVID-19 rages through state’s largest jail, court orders release of some inmates

Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 8:08 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With coronavirus raging through the Oahu Community Correctional Center uncontrollably, the state Supreme Court on Sunday ordered the release of certain inmates from the overcrowded facility.

The order comes on the same day that the state Public Safety Department announced that the number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 at OCCC had swelled to 170.

In addition, at least 30 adult correctional officers have contracted the virus.

“The COVID-19 outbreak at OCCC ... has the potential to not only place the inmates at risk of death or serious illness, but also endanger the lives and well-being of staff and service providers who work at OCCC, their families, and members of the community,” the justices wrote, in their order.

[Read more: 200 people total infected at OCCC as mounting strain leads to unrest]

“Because of the virulent spread of the virus within close quarters, the COVID-19 outbreak at OCCC also has the potential to tax the limited resources of Hawai’i’s community health care providers.”

The court ordered that detainees charged with a misdemeanor — except those facing domestic violence counts — be released by Wednesday.

Additionally, the justices said inmates can only be released if they have not tested positive for COVID-19 and are not exhibiting any symptoms.

“Additional inmates who later meet these criteria shall be expeditiously released,” the court said.

Once released, they will be ordered into self-isolation for 14 days, the order states.

This story will be updated.

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