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Hawaii Fails to Provide Video of Two Prison Disturbances

Outside, police were called in to help restore order and conduct a subsequent investigation to assign culpability for prosecution purposes. No criminal charges were ever filed. The prison had no video surveillance system other than a hand-held video camera for which no one could find the memory card. This resulted in no criminal charges against any of the uprising’s participants other than administrative sanctions levied on those suspected of participating by prison authorities.

Damages to the facility were severe enough that Governor David Ige signed a spending bill for $5.1 million for repairs and installation of a video surveillance system.

The administrative sanctions levied by prison officials against suspected participants totaled $1,358 for those related to just the fire and $2,716 for those related to either or both.

Around 3:45 p.m. on September 8, 2020, Honolulu Civil Beat reported that prisoners at the Hawaii Community Corrections Center (HCCC) rioted. Some started a fire amid the general melee while outside police were called to the prison to help secure it and its perimeter. One staffer was injured but released after treatment, and eight prisoners were “evaluated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation.”

It was over by 5:30 p.m., but police and prison investigators found themselves facing the same dilemma as investigators from the MCCC incident a year prior did — HCCC had no video surveillance system, either.

HCCC has been undergoing renovations and upgrades for the past year. A brand new $4.5 million electronics and video surveillance system is in place but not yet operable. The completion date for these upgrades and renovations is sometime in early 2021, according to prison spokesperson Toni Schwartz. Work on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at the jail has strained “our overcrowded facilities,” the governor’s office reported. 


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