Jail releases possibly more dangerous than outbreak

Hawaii – Letters by the Big Island’s prosecutor and a pair of Oahu legislators object to the manner in which inmates are being released pursuant to a state Supreme Court order that seeks to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hawaii’s jails and prisons.


A May 12 letter by Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth to Daniel R. Foley, a retired appeals judge tasked by the high court to oversee the reduction in inmate population in Hawaii’s historically crowded correctional facilities, said his office is “very concerned about defendants who are repeat offenders, who after release, committed more crimes in the community.”


The letter said some of the offenders released “did not fit into the original group of offenders sought to be released” by a petition to the Supreme Court by the state Office of the Public Defender.


Roth wrote violent offenders “have been released over by the court(s) over state’s objections” and that some defendants “have been rearrested twice in one week.”


He said those defendants “have no incentive to change their behavior because the pattern established for them now is they will be released over state objections.”


Published:  May 19, 2020
By:  John Burnett, Hawaii Tribune-Herald

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