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Bed bugs infest OCCC module

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Complaints of a bed bug infestation from inmates at the Oahu Community Correctional Center have prison officials using pesticides, heat, steam and disposing materials like mattresses to eradicate the pests.

Toni Schwartz, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, said it’s a continuing problem at the 950-bed Kalihi prison.

“I do not know if it’s worse than in the past, but we will do the treatments to get rid of it just like we have done in the past,” Schwartz said. “We started eradication procedures after complaints from inmates began coming in last month.”

The infestation is confined to OCCC’s Module 20, which houses 120 work-furlough inmates.

Work-furlough inmates are allowed to leave the prison daily to participate in programs outside of the facility to help them reintegrate into society before they are released.

“The chances of bed bugs getting into the facility increase due to the transient population in that module,” Schwartz said. “Just like with hotels, hospitals and other places that have a lot of transient people in close quarters, bed bugs can become an issue that repeatedly has to be taken care of.”

Heat and steam are the best ways to kill bed bugs, she said, adding, “We realize the bed bugs are an issue, not only for inmates but for our staff as well who have to work in that module. We are doing everything we can to get rid of the problem.

“Whenever we get complaints from inmates that there are bed bugs we start procedures to get rid of them.”

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