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Judicial changes for COVID-19

HONOLULU — The state Department of Public Safety is making adjustments in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including heavier use of video conferencing for arraignments, plea proceedings and bail motions.

DPS announced Friday that no inmates in the system have met the persons under investigation criteria for COVID-19, but that officials are taking proactive measures anyway, with partners including the Office of the Attorney General, the Judiciary, county prosecutors, Office of the Public Defender, and the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority, to find ways to temporarily reduce the number of people in prisons and jails, while keeping the overall safety of the community the top priority. Those measures include:

• To assist the Judiciary with their decision-making process, DPS submitted a list of those incarcerated as pre-trial and sentenced misdemeanants as well as those who are incarcerated as felony probationers;

• The DPS has been working with judicial partners to implement more video conferencing of arraignment and plea proceedings and bail motions. The video conferencing at O‘ahu Community Correctional Center was successfully increased to three days a week, and officials are looking at possibly expanding to additional days;

• DPS identified 52 inmates at the Halawa Correctional Facility and five at the Women’s Community Correctional Center who will be completing their full sentence between now and June 30. A list has been sent to the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority for its consideration;

• The Hawai‘i Paroling Authority is identifying all cases statewide that are approved for parole and pending a release date set by the HPA chair. HPA is working to expedite the verifications process for their approved release;

HPA board suspended all parole hearings for two weeks. Hearings are tentatively scheduled to resume on Friday, April 3.

All inmate work-furlough passes and Hawaii Correctional Industries outside community service work lines are suspended until further notice.

All non-essential programming is temporarily suspended.

Correctional services such as security, health care, food service and facility operations and maintenance will continue as scheduled. Essential medical specialist transports, hospital and emergency transports will continue as needed.

Enhanced screening is implemented at entry points, including no-touch temperature checks and verbal health-screening questions.

Since Feb. 24 the jail population has decreased statewide by 356 individuals, down from 2,245 in February to 1,889 on March 27. This is due in part to efforts being made by the Judiciary as they work with DPS to reduce the number of people in jails.

  1. Rev Dr Malama March 30, 2020 7:55 am Reply

    I support the efforts of the Judiciary to find the most effective way to protect human rights and civil liberties.
    This is a much better solution than the previous article seemed to be relaying..

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