The number of 'walk away' escapes rise significantly and DPS knows why

Published: Jul. 29, 2014 at 1:25 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 29, 2014 at 8:55 AM HST
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Laumaka inmate Eric Pixley
Laumaka inmate Eric Pixley

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since the beginning of the year, there have been about 30 inmates who walked away from the work furlough program statewide, that's more than all of last year. The Deputy Director of Corrections says that's because the number of inmates participating has also increased.

"We doubled our capacity at OCCC," says Max Otani, the Deputy Director of Corrections.

Just this past weekend, two inmates from the Oahu Community Correctional Center didn't return from job sites: Jared Denault, who was caught Monday in the parking lot of the Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, and Eric Pixley, who police are still looking for.

OCCC has two facilities for those inmates, the Laumaka Work Furlough Center just off the property and Module 20, which is within the fence. Inmates are allowed to leave for work but are required to return by a certain time. Otani says most follow the rules and the program has a success rate of about 80%.

The program is for those who are nearing the end of their sentence. It's a way for them to transition back into the community. Some have just weeks before a parole hearing. Walking away can add five years to their term.

"To the normal person it wouldn't make sense," says Otani, "People make bad decisions."

The Department of Public Safety was already planning on using ankle monitors on some inmates. This was originally intended to ease the burden on corrections officers who currently have to drive to job sites to check on the inmates. But the department hopes it will also discourage them from walking away.

There are currently 216 participating at OCCC. There is still a waiting list for inmates wanting to enroll.

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