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Public safety director testifies on escape

He also discusses inmate’s slaying by another on Oahu

April 6, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Correctional procedures are being reinforced and changes made after a prisoner who was being brought to a Honolulu court escaped and was on the lam for nearly 12 hours.

Ted Sakai, the state's director of Public Safety, told members of the senate Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee at a Thursday hearing at the state Capitol that some procedures and policies were not followed.

Policy requires inmates to wear handcuffs, belly chains and leg irons when they are being transported. Teddy Munet was not wearing leg irons when he escaped.

Sakai said that officers went through a refresher course on procedures immediately after the escape and that the training will be conducted on a more regular basis, Hawaii News Now reported.

Sakai also told committee members that there are plans to install surveillance cameras in the security holding cell area at Oahu Community Correctional Center where a detainee allegedly killed another earlier this year.

Corrections officers are staggering the arrival of vans carrying inmates to Circuit Court to prevent future escapes.

"There's been many lessons learned," Sakai said.

The director said his department is facing problems in trying to decide where to put inmates. The correction center is designed to hold a little more than 600 inmates but now houses about 1,200, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"Because of the situation, it's a difficult decision for the staff to make," Sakai told committee members.

The death of 76-year-old inmate Cyrl Chung, allegedly at the hands of his cellmate, Joseph Tui Jr., was described by a corrections official as a "very rare" incident at the prison but one that nevertheless raises questions about security.

Both Chung and Tui, 36, were placed in a security holding cell area described by corrections officials as a "jail in a jail," where inmates guilty of misconduct were placed away from the regular prisoner population.

Tui was in custody on a harassment charge from a July arrest. He was in the security cell holding area for threatening a staff member.

Chung, described as career criminal, was awaiting trial on charges of second-degree robbery. He was in the holding cell for cigarette possession.

"Mr. Chung was sentenced to prison but not to die," said state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D-Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki).



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