Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – House Speaker Scott K. Saiki, Representative Scot Z. Matayoshi and several other State Representatives have sent a letter to Governor David Ige asking that he “take all measures necessary to lease additional inmate space at the Federal Detention Center.”
Lawmakers say the recent COVID-19 outbreak in our prison system and the second wave of prisoner releases by the State Judiciary could endanger everyone in our state. They suggest federal CARES Act funds that the state already has at its disposal could be used to pay for the lease.
"It's important to keep the prison population COVID-free, not only for their safety, but also to prevent the waves of prisoner releases that endanger our communities," said Rep. Scot Z. Matayoshi (Kāne‘ohe, Maunawili, Olomana).
According to the letter, many of the released prisoners are homeless and will be unable to quarantine and will thus be spreading the disease throughout our communities from a location with known COVID-19 infections.
Lawmakers suggest the Federal Detention Center be used for intake of new prisoners which could be held there for 14 days to make sure they are virus-free before placing them into the prison population. The space could also be used to quarantine prisoners already infected.
"We need to prioritize the safety of inmates, prison guards, supporting staff, and the greater community by isolating incoming and infected prisoners in the federal center which would protect everyone.” said Rep. Stacelynn K.M. Eli (‘Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko ‘Olina, Kahe Point, Nānākuli, Lualualei, Mā‘ili).