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Group raises bail for Hawaii inmates to help slow COVID-19 spread

A volunteer aid network in Hawaii has raised bail funds for pretrial detainees in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s prison system.

CoronaCare Hawaii has partnered with the Hawaii Community Bail Fund to provide bail for 10 Native Hawaiian detainees from the Oahu Community Correctional Center, KITV reported Sunday.

The group said the partnership was in honor of Hawaiian Independence Day on Nov. 28. CoronaCare plans to post bail for the detainees today, with their release expected Tuesday.

“It’s not charity, it’s people helping people in need and contributing to lifting up the community so that we can solve these problems together rather than waiting around to be saved,” Coronacare Hawaii volunteer Kawena Phillips said.

Coronacare organizers said they disagree with how the state Department of Public Safety has handled the pandemic.

“It’s infuriating because there are so many ways we can combat this virus with community-focused, community-oriented solutions, and instead, the solution that has been given time and time again is to further criminalize people of color,” Phillips said.

The public safety department on Friday reported there were 16 people infected with coronavirus at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, four at the Halawa Correctional Facility, 162 at the Waiawa Correctional Facility and 123 cases among Hawaii prisoners held the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona.

Native Hawaiians make up more than 40% percent of the state’s incarcerated population, the University of Hawaii has reported.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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