Maui jail operating with less than half the normal staff

WAILUKU — A Maui jail where a riot broke out in March is operating with less than half the normal number of corrections officers, officials said.

The state Department of Public Safety said as few as 83 guards for the facility that would be fully staffed with 170 guards regularly report to work at the Maui Community Correctional Center in Wailuku, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

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Inmates caused more than $5 million in damage during a March 11 riot at the jail.

Some guards work 60 to 80 hours per week and morale is low, two corrections officers told the newspaper.

Many corrections officers have been working double shifts for three to five days each week, said Toni Schwartz, state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman.

“There has been a longstanding struggle to attract qualified applicants on Maui, or any island for that matter, who want to work in a jail facility,” Schwartz said in an email.

There are 32 vacant positions and 23 corrections officers are out on workers’ compensation. An additional 32 guards have been granted leave under the federal Family Medical and Leave Act that allows employees to take 12 weeks of leave within a one-year period, officials said.

When asked if the National Guard may need to be brought in to assist, Schwartz said “all possible options to address staff shortages may be explored.”

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United Public Workers, which represents corrections officers, said union leaders have met with Maui guards.

The union is trying to assemble a joint labor and management committee to address problems statewide, said Hawaii director Dayton Nakanelua.

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