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Oahu female inmates lose Mother's Day visits

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:46 p.m. HST, May 12, 2014

Inmates at Hawaii's women's prison weren't able to visit with their children on Mother's Day because not enough guards showed up for work.

The state Department of Public Safety has been struggling with guards calling in sick and other time-off abuses that have frequently forced the cancellation of family visits at various Hawaii prisons.

Only nine out of 29 officers assigned for duty came to work on Sunday at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua, said department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz. "The 20 officers who didn't come in weren't all sick leave," she said, citing other reasons for absences including those out on workers' compensation, those taking time through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and workers who are temporarily assigned somewhere else to help with duties such as training.

"Holidays tend to be a little bit more problematic when it comes to staffing," Schwartz said. "We do tend to have more of a skeleton crew on holidays. ... Mother's Day just happens to fall on a visitation day."

But Keiki O Ka Aina, an organization that helps families affected by incarceration, hosted a kids' day at the prison on Saturday, where 24 inmates spent time with their children.

Schwartz said scheduled visits for two of the facility's four cottages were held on Saturday.

"Most of them who wanted to see their kids got to do that on Saturday," she said, noting that some women are court-ordered not to have contact with their children.

About two-thirds of the facility's 248 inmates are mothers. It's the state's only facility for women and houses inmates with security levels from minimum to maximum.

"It's really heartbreaking," Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said of Sunday's cancellation.

A family visit "provides hope, it maintains connections," said Brady, whose organization advocates for prisoners. "It's really sad to me, because the research even shows visitation is a really good management strategy. When (inmates) know they are going to have visits that weekend ... they don't want to do anything to jeopardize that."

In recent months, staffing shortages have canceled family visits at various facilities including Oahu Community Correctional Center, Halawa Correctional Facility and the Big Island's Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

The last time visits were canceled at the women's facility was April 13.

"We know that visitation is very important for the inmates and their families, and do everything we can to facilitate visits, but safety is always going to be the top priority," Schwartz said.

Canceled visits at the women's facility haven't been as big of a problem as they have been for other prisons, Brady said.

"Usually we don't have that problem at the women's," she said. "It's really disturbing to me. I guess you could say it's quite a statement — on Mother's Day we're not making that special effort to make sure moms and their kids are connected."

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iwanaknow wrote:
So hind sight is 20/20............everyone should have done their visitations on Saturday and skipped Sunday?......when is the next Holiday? Memorial Day, Monday May 26, 2014......we'll have the same challenge as yesterday?
on May 12,2014 | 02:23PM
udabest wrote:
So sorry, so sad. Totally unsatisfactory leadership. All salaried qualified managers should have worked that one day for a very good cause since all the hourly workers decided to forego working to spend time with their family for mothers day. This happens every year yet where is the lesson learned or mitigation plan since this is the essence of definition of insanity. I work for the gov't and this would not be tolerated nor not planned for. So sorry for the keiki's and the mothers due lousy state leadership with poor accountability of actions. Sad:(
on May 12,2014 | 08:02PM
Mediocrates wrote:
This is increasingly disturbing… they should publish a list of the days that people lose visitation rights on because of this consistent abuse of "sick leave" by these people who seem to have zero work ethic. Time to radically reduce sick leave or begin penalizing every worker when others abuse their sick leave. If you don't want to work on Mothers Day, find a job where you don't have to work on Mothers Day, if you don't want to work on Superbowl Sunday, again, find another job. This is doing consistent and ongoing harm to those who are supposed to be being rehabilitated but this process requires regular access to family.
on May 12,2014 | 02:32PM
Waterman2 wrote:
Should have called Aunty Faye Hanohano, she knows the system........
on May 12,2014 | 02:34PM
Skyler wrote:
I have a hard time feeling really bad about the situation these women are in.
on May 12,2014 | 03:51PM
soundofreason wrote:
and I don't. But this sick leave stuff is OUT OF HAND. Hope nobody says anything when theses prisoners get shipped out to other states operating under PRIVATE companies.
on May 12,2014 | 06:46PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Feel for the family, then. And it's not just the guards at the women's prison. It happens at OCCC, it happens in the HPD, it happens at UH, it happens in every union-protected profession where it's 24/7 and people are supposed to work on days when others get off. Don't be mad for the women in the prison, but be mad that your tax dollars are going to waste because of overinflated overtime and having to hire more guards than you need to make up for the fact that half of them hardly show up for work.
on May 12,2014 | 07:42PM
localguy wrote:
Hard to complain when you hire from the bottom of the barrel. All they have to do to qualify is fill in the colors on the coloring book they are given.
on May 12,2014 | 09:18PM
Jonas wrote:
You know what they should do? Sue the state! They can't be denied privileges in this manner! And this will keep the many decades-old tradition of frivilous lawsuits! Most people don't want government intervention, but as soon as something unfortunate happens, they sue the government! No bad consequence is EVER due to MY fault - it must be someone else's!
on May 12,2014 | 04:06PM
localguy wrote:
Worst part is the sorry, clueless union bosses know the guards are not sick, just taking paid time off, they condone this substandard behavior. Time to change the contract, require a doctor's note for more than one day sick. Guards with a track record of becoming sick on weekends, before game days, in conjunction with a federal or state holiday counseled. Guards keep getting sick, fire them and hire more healthy guards. From what I've seen, these guys never miss a meal.
on May 12,2014 | 09:30PM
BigErn wrote:
Here's an idea: don't commit crimes. Then you can spend all the time you want with your kids.
on May 12,2014 | 06:11PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
exactly..if no one committed crimes there would be no need for prison guards or cops..we would save so much taxpayer money
on May 12,2014 | 06:36PM
soundofreason wrote:
This is happening EVERYwhere. DMV was last week's story which results in people camping out overnight to take driving tests. The only reason THIS is, again, on the forefront is because it is directly people on a personal level....frequently. But again, happening everywhere in govt.
on May 12,2014 | 06:49PM
HOSSANA wrote:
EXACTLY!! Finally, someone wrote a common sense comment. Thank you.
on May 12,2014 | 10:58PM
Kuokoa wrote:
...and the moms serving their country in Afghanistan got to see their kids?
on May 12,2014 | 08:24PM
soundofreason wrote:
That kinda brings the point home
on May 12,2014 | 11:01PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
I saw this on kitv news, but they showed instead Halawa which doesn't house women inmates....another example of the media doing misleading and inaccurate reporting.....
on May 12,2014 | 08:29PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
And everyone effected will still vote Democrat.
on May 12,2014 | 08:35PM
sailfish1 wrote:
They need to get rid of the prison managers. They should be scheduling workers such that the work gets done - i.e. if they need officers there for visitation, they should have officers there. If 29 officers are assigned for duty and only 9 show up, they have a real problem.
on May 12,2014 | 08:58PM
jmarie wrote:
Oh cry me a river, next time don't do the crime if you can do the time. That's right you made the choice to commit a crime so no crying now!
on May 12,2014 | 08:59PM
localguy wrote:
Another of thousands of examples of union goon guards who only have one concern, taking care of #1. Professionalism, leading by example, taking care of others, not on their radar screen or their union bosses. Sad to see another example of the Nei looking like a 5th world country. How do these utterly dysfunctional, legend in their own mind, special needs people look themselves in the mirror every day? Sad to see so many losers taking a government pay check.
on May 12,2014 | 09:16PM
HOSSANA wrote:
why are people feeling sorry for these inmates and or, upset with no visitation days....geezus, these are criminals and they are there for a reason....they are not in a hotel etc....think of their victims...these women inmates are there because they lost their privilege and broke laws of society so please don't give me this liberal attitude that they deserve visitations for their rehab etc.......im sorry but you get no sympathy from me...
on May 12,2014 | 10:56PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Apparently, their keiki no get sympathy from you either. Classy.
on May 12,2014 | 11:53PM
LMAO wrote:
Visiting is a privilege. A RIGHT given up once they walked through the doors.
on May 13,2014 | 08:43AM
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