Public Defender’s office files petition to release ‘vulnerable people at OCCC’

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) filed a second petition seeking the immediate release of vulnerable and low-risk incarcerated people on Wednesday night. This comes after more than 70 cases were found to be present at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, where mass testing is now underway.

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The motion requests the release of individuals in the following categories: people being held on misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor offenses, except those charged with abuse of family or household members, violation of a temporary restraining order, violation of an order for protection, or violation of a restraining order or injunction; people pretrial charged with a felony or currently serving a felony sentence as a condition of deferral or probation except for those charged with a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault, any crimes against a person, burglary, abuse of family or household members, and unauthorized entry in a dwelling.

“Swift, immediate action is necessary to decarcerate our correctional facilities and provide space to quarantine which includes moving incarcerated people who have tested negative to hotels, or any offsite facility while pending release.”

Public Defender James Tabe

The OPD filed the initial emergency action in March.

“Bottom line, our correctional facilities are not safe for anyone. By their very nature, jails are a dangerous place for our clients, the ACOs, medical staff, other personnel, their families and the larger community. Unlike the situation in early March which dealt with only the threat of this deadly pandemic being introduced into our correctional facilities, we are now faced with the reality of COVID-19 being confirmed in at least three facilities on Oʻahu” Public Defender James Tabe stated in a press release.

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