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Inmates numbers at Maui jail are still on the decline

Continued efforts made to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

A decline in the number of inmates has continued at the Maui Community Correctional Center, through efforts statewide by police, prosecutors and defense attorneys to lower jail populations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As of May 7, 272 inmates were housed at the Wailuku jail for a 39 percent decrease from 450 on March 2, according to a fourth summary report filed Friday by special master and retired Judge Daniel Foley.

A 38 percent decrease was reported in the number of inmates housed at correctional centers statewide, with the count at 1,357 inmates May 7, down from 2,189 on March 7, according to the report.

The state Supreme Court appointed Foley as special master in April to work with parties to address Office of the Public Defender petitions filed in March that called for the release of inmates from state correctional facilities in the coronavirus crisis.

Foley’s report said the jail population reductions resulted from police departments not issuing certain bench warrants, prosecutors not filing new charges for less serious offenses and not requiring bail for many people charged with crimes. In addition, petitions for early release were granted for some defendants.

“This effort has essentially been exhausted as of April 28,” Foley’s report said.

He said the focus for reducing jail populations was shifting to the Hawaii Paroling Authority’s review of inmates for early release, as well as granting of parole in the normal course.

The paroling authority is scheduled to consider 344 inmates for release this month and 388 for release in June, according to the report.

At Maui, Kauai and Oahu correctional facilities, inmate numbers were below operational capacities. Except for Kauai Community Correctional Center, jail populations were above design capacities.

The inmate count at MCCC was below its operational capacity of 301 but above its design capacity of 209, according to the report.

The report said reductions in inmate numbers were expected to continue through June if “the hold on serving bench warrants and the filing of charges for less serious offenses continues.”

“Eventually, warrants will be executed and charges will be filed again, which will bring more inmates into correctional centers and facilities,” the report said.

It said that not requiring cash bail for release “when appropriate, will need to become standard procedure to keep inmate populations at or near design capacities at the correctional centers.”

The report said the public defender’s office “has achieved much of the relief it requested in its two petitions.”

“Jail populations have been reduced significantly, and approach design capacities on Oahu, Hawaii and Maui,” according to the report.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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