Probe Of Maui Jail Disturbance Begins In Latest DPS Episode

Mar 12, 2019

FILE: Investigations are underway to determine the cause of an inmate disturbance yesterday at Maui Community Correctional Center.
Credit Bolkins/iStock

Internal and criminal investigations are underway following an disturbance at the Maui Community Correctional Center yesterday that left several staff members with minor injuries.

Hawaiʻi correctional officials say the event erupted after 42 inmates in one module were ordered to return to their cells following recreational time and they refused. Fifty-two others complied with the order.

The inmates broke fire sprinklers inside the module and and started a small fire in a common area. Smoke drifted into a second living unit, where another smaller disturbance broke out.

MCCC staff and Maui police negotiated with inmates in the recreational yard and many voluntarily left while others lingered behind. By 6:26 p.m., about three and a half hours after the disturbance was first reported, the situation was contained, officials said in a news release.

No inmates were reported injured but three staffers were treated for injuries that included an injured finger, foot cut from shattered glass and skin irritation from pepper spray exposure. Public safety officials said there was "significant damage" in the two modules, but dollar estimates were not immediately available.

The state Department of Public Safety and the police are working to determine the cause of the disturbance and who sparked it.

MCCC is among the local correctional centers that have long faced overcrowding issues. As of Feb. 28, MCCC housed 410 inmates and had a bed capacity of 301, department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said by email. 

The inmate disturbance is the latest in a series of recent events that have rocked the Department of Public Safety.

In February, a deputy sheriff shot and killed a man following a fight over an open alcohol container at the state Capitol. DPS Director Nolan Espinda said at the time that both a department and police investigation had been launched and the deputy sheriff involved placed on restricted duty.

Early this month, inmate Maurice Arrisgado, Jr., was fatally shot when he tried to escape the Oʻahu Community Correctional Center. He was being returned to OCCC after a court appearance.