State Supreme Court concludes COVID-19 inmate release case


The Hawaii Supreme Court today terminated a case which led to an order requiring the state’s correctional facilities to release certain inmates because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote was 4-1, with Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald and Associate Justices Paula A. Nakayama and Sabrina S. McKenna, and Chief Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals Lisa M. Ginoza in the majority. The lone dissenter was Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson.


The order was in response to a petition on Aug. 12 by the Office of the Public Defender, which was concerned about a COVID-19 breakout at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

The majority concluded that the “rate of positive cases in Hawaii’s correctional centers and facilities has significantly declined … and a vaccination program to vaccinate inmates is underway” and “the conditions that necessitated swift action by this court in August 2020 are no longer prevalent.”

Pretrial detainees and inmates released by the original order will remain free unless the trial courts in individual cases rule otherwise.


See Saturday’s edition of the Tribune-Herald for a more detailed story.

Email John Burnett at

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