Maui Community Correctional Center, Wailuku, Hawaii
March 11, 2019

At least 42 prisoners refused to return to their cells at the end of recreation time and instead caused “significant damage” to prison infrastructure. The uprising occurred in two pods of the housing unit. Prisoners broke sprinklers, leading to flooding in the pod. The prisoners also started a fire which caused smoke damage in a neighboring pod. According to the police, the uprising lasted 3 1/2 hours and had to be quelled with the use of pepper spray. Two prisoners had to be treated for minor injuries sustained during the disturbance. Three staff members also sustained minor injuries.

The head of the Public Safety Department linked the uprising to the effects of overcrowding. “I’m sure that, generally speaking, overcrowding in the institution was a major contributor.”

(Photo Source: Hawaii News Now)

The conditions of overcrowding and deteriorating infrastructure has been a source of repeated fines and lawsuits in the past. Last year, the state estimated that MCCC was about 60% over capacity with 301 beds and over 470 prisoners.

Executive Director Joshua Wisch of the ACLU of Hawaii told KHON 2:

“We do not know the specific causes of the disturbance on Maui so are limited in what we can say at this time, but in general the ACLU of Hawai’i has raised concerns for years about unsafe conditions in all our jails and prisons, including significant overcrowding at the Maui Community Correctional Center. That is why we filed a formal complaint about prison and jail conditions in Hawai’i with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017. We will be monitoring the situation as we learn more.”

Three days after the uprising, amidst an ongoing investigation, the Department of Public Safety transferred 21 prisoners –  all pretrial detainees – from Maui Community Correctional Facility to the Halawa Correctional Facility. In February 2019, more than 44 percent of the total population in Hawaii’s four jails were pretrial detainees.

MCCC was the site of a prisoner protest in April, 2018 in which prisoners refused to return to their cells and expressed demands for the improvement of various conditions. Nearly a near later, conditions at the jail remain desperate.

(Updated: 3/20/19)

Citations:

Maui jail remains on lockdown after riot, hours-long standoff“, Hawaii News Now, March 11, 2019.

Public Safety director says severe overcrowding at Maui jail likely cause of riot,Hawaii News Now, March 11, 2019.

Maui Community Correctional Center remains under lockdown after inmate disturbance“, Star Advertiser, March 11, 2019.

Overcrowding could be cause of MCCC disturbance, says PSD“, KHON 2, March 12, 2019.

The damage at Maui Community Correctional Center after Monday’s ‘disturbance’“, Hawaii News Now, March 12, 2019.

3 staffers injured in disturbance at Maui Community Correctional Center, DPS says“, Star Advertiser, March 12, 2019.

21 Maui Inmates Transferred to Halawa After Riot“,  Honolulu Civil Beat, March 14, 2019.

 

Background:

Relief for overcrowding at Hawaii correctional facilities years away,” Hawaii News Now, April 30, 2018.

Hawaii Struggles as Overcrowding in Corrections Worsens“, Correctional News, May 2, 2018.

State slapped with big fines over safety violations at Maui Community Correctional Center“, Hawaii News Now, September 20, 2018.

Issues at MCCC lead to $37,490 in fines“, The Maui News, September 26, 2018.

Maui Riot Just The Latest Sign Of Trouble In State’s Overcrowded Jails“, Honolulu Civil Beat, March 15, 2019.