Hawaii lifts all COVID-19 custody restrictions as the rate of positive cases in correctional facilities declines


HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Friday, April 16, the Hawaii Supreme Court concluded the proceedings in the matter of individuals in state custody, lifting all of the Court’s COVID-19 custody restrictions that were set in place since August 2020.

According to court documents, recent filings indicated that the rate of positive cases in the State’s correctional facilities has significantly declined since the petition was filed last year.

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Testing and other safety measures have also been implemented, and a program to vaccinate inmates is underway.

“Thus, it appears that the conditions that necessitated swift action by this court in August 2020 are no longer prevalent,” the Order said.

On August 12, 2020, the Office of the Public Defender (“OPD”) filed a petition for the expedited release of certain inmates at Hawaii’s correctional centers and facilities, as a result of a surge in COVID-19 positive cases primarily at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

The Court allowed for the release of inmates and pretrial detainees who met certain criteria in order to prevent the likely possibility that a spread of the virus in correctional facilities would tax the capacities of the health care systems. Vaccinations were also not available at the time.

Filing individual motions that seek to modify the release status of any defendant will still be an option. Trial courts will also have full discretion on whether to set bail and to impose conditions of release.

“Orders related to the release or temporary suspension of incarceration of defendants arising out of this original proceeding shall remain in effect,” court documents said, “unless otherwise modified by specific order(s) of trial courts relating to specific defendants.”

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