Up to 100 inmates now under state incarceration will be transferred temporarily to the Federal Detention Center under an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, state Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda said today.
Gov. David Ige made the request to the White House last week in an effort to ease overcrowding at state correctional facilities in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Inmate advocates warn that failure to reduce the populations at the state’s eight jails and prisons will increase the possibility of widespread infection of inmates, corrections officers and other employees and their families.
Public Defender James Tabe filed motions last month to require the state to release a portion of its inmates.
Espinda told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 that the transfers to the FDC, near the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, will begin Monday.
Through a contract, the state currently has 94 of its inmates in the FDC. But since March 13, intakes from the state had been suspended, Espinda said.
Espinda did not say from which state facilities the inmates would be transferred from, nor what categories of inmates would be involved in the move.
Ige, in his letter to Trump, said “The inmates we seek to transfer are primarily jail inmates charged with, or convicted of, crimes against persons, domestic violence crimes or violations of Temporary Restraining Orders and Protective Orders.”
Several inmate advocates told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that while they want inmate populations at state facilities reduced, they don’t believe temporary transfer to the FDC is a good idea.