State lawmaker demands accountability following mistaken release of Big Island suspected murderer

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According to the Department of Public Safety, suspected murderer Brian Lee Smith was mistakenly released from the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo on Tuesday. 

Prosecutors learned of the mistake Thursday morning, and then notified HCCC at 8:40 a.m. About two hours later at 11:30, the state public safety director’s office was notified.  Around 2:30 this afternoon, an alert was sent out to the public.

“This is not a good time for Hawaii county,” said Hawaii County mayor Harry Kim. 

“Definitely unacceptable. I don’t think no one would call it acceptable. I imagine even DPS themselves would say it wasn’t acceptable,” added Senator Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Committee on Public Safety. 

Nishihara demands answers. 

“I don’t know what went wrong procedurally that allowed it to happen. But I know clearly the public demands it doesn’t happen again. or again, and again, and again.”

Nishihara plans on holding the Department of Public Safety accountable. 

“It takes a public briefing on this to make sure the public gets an idea as to what the process is for the department so these things don’t happen over and over and over,” said Nishihara. 

This is not the first time an inmate has been mistakenly released.

In May, OCCC detainee Winston Kailimai was supposed to be transferred to the state hospital, but was released.

He was arrested the next day.

In 2014, an OCCC inmate walked out of prison because of a paperwork mistake. He was found at the bus stop outside of the jail. 

In September 2013, Edward Robins…who was serving time for assault…was released early by mistake. 

Sheriffs found him two days later.

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