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City Prosecutor Alm , Attorney Eric Seitz , and ACLU ??, featured prominently in newest round of Covid-19 Emergency releases deb

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City Prosecutor Alm and DPS Oppose Further Covid-19 Related Emergency Releases of Inmates

The state of Hawaii correctional system should not resume the release of inmates to slow the spread of Covid-19, argues City Prosector Steve Alm in a new filing.

“Given the availability of vaccines to all inmates, any inmate who chooses not to get vaccinated should not be released pursuant to Petitioner’s requests. Such an outcome will have a perversely negative impact on public safety.”

“The necessity for this Court to once again intervene is urgent,” argues the Hawaii Public Defender’s Office in a new 173-page filing, relying in part on the findings of U.S. District Court Judge Jill Otake, who last month ruled the Hawaii correctional system failed to follow its own Pandemic Response Plan.

As a result of a class action suit filed on behalf of Hawaii inmates by attorney Eric Seitz, a settlement was reached last week where a new five-person panel will be given recommendation powers to improve quarantine procedures, distancing guidelines, and vaccine availability for inmates.

In a show of support for additional emergency releases, the ACLU of Hawaii filed a motion this week urging the Supreme Court to reimplement covid-19 related humanitarian releases for low risk to public safety detainees.

“As recent outbreaks have shown, our jails and prisons are unsafe, not only for those who are incarcerated and work in these facilities, but also for the community at large,” said Wookie Kim, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii.

“There’s simply no reason to believe that the court can’t design another release process that will protect both public health and public safety.”

Retired appellate Judge Daniel Foley, whom served as the "special master" in evaluating the merits for release of inmates during the court's first round of emergency releases, will serve on the 5 person panel.

Links to the mainstream media's coverage of the issue are located below: