The state Department of Public safety said 40 sentenced felons at Hawaii Community Correctional Center and Kulani Correctional Facility were transferred Tuesday by Hawaii Army National Guard helicopters to Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu.
A DPS statement said the transfer was done “in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at the Hilo jail.
“The Hawaii National Guard has worked with the Department of Public Safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, the state’s adjutant general. Hara called the transport mission “critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii’s prison system.”
According to the DPS website, HCCC had three active positive COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, while Kulani has had no inmates test positive during the pandemic.
As of July 12, the last inmate population report publicly available, HCCC had 262 inmates, 56 more than its design capacity of 206 inmates, while Kulani had 131 inmates, 69 fewer than its design capacity of 200 inmates.
Of the 40 inmates who flew to Oahu, 20 were from HCCC and 20 were from KCF.
“Moving these sentenced felons helped to free up more space for the pre-trial custodies at HCCC,” said DPS Director Max Otani. “We couldn’t have done this without the coordination and collaborative relationship with our federal, executive and judicial partners.”