Hawaii officials want the inmate releases to stop, realizing it might cause a danger to the state

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HAWAII – Officials in Hawaii are starting to voice their concerns over the release of jail and prison inmates with the intent to avoid COVID-19 spreading throughout the corrections system. Namely because inmates are getting released and rearrested, while there’s been no confirmed cases of COVID within the state prisons in Hawaii.

Attorney General Clare Connors is among those noting that the risk to public safety regarding inmates prematurely released from state facilities is a greater threat than that of the pandemic managing to enter state-controlled correctional facilities:

“We do think that it’s time for this effort to stop.”

AG Connors reportedly made the comments while speaking at a hearing for the House Public Safety, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee recently. She noted that in roughly the past month, 47 people who were released in Oahu have managed to be rearrested.

Since early March, over 800 inmates were reportedly released from various facilities in Hawaii, and county prosecutors within Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui are also saying it’s time to cease these forms of release.

Dwight Nadamoto, who serves as the acting prosecutor in Honolulu, made mention of cases that presented public risk if considered for release. One case in particular was that of a defendant who was charged with several counts of sexual assault:

“These are the type of people who are getting released.”

Furthermore, Nadamoto speculated on the irony of how those who have been released may wind up getting rearrested, only to be the vector of the virus that officials were trying to keep out of the jails and prisons in the first place:

“Wouldn’t it be ironic if the guy who got released is the one bringing it in?”

Dennis Dunn, who works within the Honolulu prosecutor’s office, likened the notion of releasing criminals early due to pandemic related concerns as an “invitation for recidivism.”

Dunn’s function within the prosecutor’s office relates to working with both victims and witnesses to ongoing criminal proceedings, to which he explained that victims of various crimes have voiced worries related to all of these releases.

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State Public Defender James Tabe was among the crowd at the hearing to suggest that inmate releases should keep moving forward. Tabe’s rationale for this is that if the jails and prisons become inundated with COVID cases, then those infected will inevitably become a burden and de facto danger to area hospitals:

“We’re fortunate that it wasn’t introduced into our jails. An outbreak there will affect everyone here. If all of a sudden, we got 100 cases, guess where they’re going. They’re going to our local hospitals.”

Yet, Tabe’s position would be a lot easier to digest if Hawaii wasn’t putting people in jail for getting pizza or surfing. 

Recently, a tourist from New York visiting the beautiful state was arrested for photos posted on social media that featured himself on the beach.

There’s a tongue in cheek expression known as “come on vacation, leave on probation.” However, a 23-year-old man who vacationed to Hawaii could be facing up to a year in jail for breaking implemented rules regarding state visitation.

The suspect in question, identified as Tarique Peters, had arrived in O’ahu on May 11th reportedly, and subsequently had began posting photos of himself on the beach in Waikiki.

statement released by the state’s website dubbed as the COVID-19 Joint Information Center stated the following about the incident:

“Authorities became aware of [Peters’] social media posts from citizens who saw posts of him – on the beach with a surfboard, sunbathing, and walking around Waikiki at night. [On May 15th] agents were able to confirm with hotel personnel that had seen Peters leave his room and the premises on numerous occasions this week.”

The news release noted that Peters was booked into jail and had his bond set at $4,000. His charges were listed as violating the mandatory 14-day quarantine and unsworn falsification to authority.

Yet, if vacationers are expected to stay in their hotel for 14 days upon arriving in Hawaii, is there even a point to vacationing there at all? Keep in mind, the average cost of a hotel in Hawaii can run an average of $264 per night – that means someone could spend close to $3,700 in hotel costs to be confined in a room with a nifty view for two weeks.  

Not to mention, state Governor David Ige extended this traveling rule up until the end of June.

There was also a similar case that happened in late-April in Hawaii where two honeymooners were arrested after getting some pizza.

In that case, 20-year-old Borice Leouskiy and 26-year-old Yuliia Andreichenko found themselves hemmed up under the very same charges as the recent arrest of Peters.

At this point, perhaps vacation trips to Hawaii are better put-off for some time.

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