LIHU‘E — The 128-operational capacity Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center had 143 inmates on March 2. In two months, this number has dropped to 85 as of May 1, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Because the facility is currently underpopulated, KCCC staff was able to seamlessly separate two inmates into an isolated quarantine while they were tested for COVID-19.
KCCC tested two inmates, a male and female, for COVID-19 in April, both of which came back negative. There are currently no other quarantines in the jail.
“[The jail] is at a safe level which led to a successful quarantine,” Kaua’i County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said, adding that quarantines happened in both the male and female sections of the jail.
Department of Public Safety protocol immediately takes inmates who present systems of any respiratory illness receive a full evaluation on-site and then are placed into a medical isolation. After the tests came back negative, the inmates returned.
This dramatic drop in population can be attributed to COVID-19 response actions to make KCCC safer, explained Kollar in an interview last week. He said that crime is currently down and thus the rate of people coming into the jail is down, too.
“Jail populations have steadily decreased over the last two months,” he said, noting that inmate sentences are continuing to expire and there have been transitions back into society without being held up.
The Department of Public Safety created social distancing measures that included staggered meal and recreational times, limited group activities, conducting more thorough cleanings, and arranging more space between sleeping spaces.
Kollar noted that the low population of the jail, as well as additional safety measures, also make the environment safe for staff members who go home to their families after their shifts.
Incarcerated populations have decreased across the state, and nearly every facility in Hawai‘i is underpopulation, except for Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center in Hilo, which has 234 inmates in its 226 operational capacity facility as of May 1.