Is Maui Community Correctional Center Reaching Its Breaking Point?
Monday March 11, Maui Police Department was called to help Maui Community Correctional Center by suppressing a “disturbance” caused by inmates who refused to follow instructions to return to their cells and instead started a fire. According to a statement released by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, 42 inmates refused to follow the order, while 52 did. Non-compliant inmates broke sprinklers and barricaded themselves inside the module. For two hours, MPD and MCCC negotiated with the detainees and “secured” them until the situation was declared contained.
Hawai’i DPS said no inmate injuries were reported, although significant damage was sustained in the modules.
Following the assault of a correctional officer Bert Sam Fong In October 2018 at the hands of an inmate (apparently Fong is still recovering from the attack), the incident is the latest sign that the chronically overcrowded MCCC may have reached its breaking point.
In April 2018, MauiTime reported a similar, albeit less serious, incident where the inmates organized more of a sit-in than a riot. “The detainees refused the order [to return to their cells] and said they wanted to express their frustration with the telephone system, a damaged television in the common area of their module and the lack of rice with some of their meals over the past few days, ”DPS spokesperson Toni Schwartz explained at the time.
In August, MCCC and DPS were fined for two items totaling $ 16,300 (penalties were later eased to $ 8,150, Schwartz said) deemed “serious” by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The fines were linked to the firefighting system which has been an ongoing problem since 2015.
Basically it is a powder keg exacerbated by overcrowding pressures and failure to maintain and update the correctional center. If the incidents of last year are any indication of where it will go in the future, it’s clear something needs to be done immediately – or the next fire could be the one that blows it all up.
Image courtesy Maui 24/7