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Maui jail staff members describe actions, fear during riot

WAILUKU, Maui — A March 11 riot at a Maui jail left staff “scared for our lives,” according to a letter signed by the jail’s staff.

Maui Community Correctional Center employees said inmates set fires, damaged their cells and modules and “attempted to burn officers alive in the control boxes” during the riot at the Wailuku jail.

The Maui News says it received the letter Friday and was able to confirm the identities of some of the letter writers as jail staff who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

“We took down unruly inmates, securing and extracting them one at a time,” the letter said. “Officers that attempted to carry out and save injured inmates were being assaulted in the process. Through the use of sheer physical force, less than lethal weapons and teamwork, we were able to regain control, quell and finally suppress the riots over a period of eight hours.”

Inmates from four modules were involved in the riot, according to the letter. The riot lasted three and a half hours, said state Department of Public Safety officials.

Emergency repairs are estimated to cost $5.3 million this fiscal year and another $8 million next fiscal year for long-term security improvements, said DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.

Jail workers blame the riot on the department and the state, citing poor facilities, lack of manpower, incompetent leadership, insufficient riot training and growing inmate tension.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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