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From high profile escapes to suicides, even a murder behind bars, Hawaii’s prison system is under the microscope.
And that’s prompted a new era of training for guards including for Friday’s graduating class of recruits.
A lot of attention has been placed on getting the prison guards in better shape. But the state says there’s more to it than that.
There were 27 adult corrections officers were sworn in at graduation Friday fresh from eight weeks of training.
“It was a lot of grueling and intense and physical challenges that we had to overcome and to me I kind of enjoyed it,” said Raymond Glenn, Jr. who just graduated.
Training that included a lot of physical activity because they need to be in shape.
The graduating class is well aware that they’re under the spotlight especially after the high profile escape in February of accused murderer Teddy Munet.
Graduate Isaiah Lawelawe said, “It just encourages me to do my job a lot better, just pretty much doing the best you can, just doing your job overall.”
Changes are just beginning. For this class, there’s new training on crisis intervention dealing with inmates who are extremely difficult.
The key lesson is using physical force only when all else fails.
There are also changes in the works to make sure that officers stay in shape.
The state said that still needs to be negotiated with the union.
“We want to ensure that in the future that our correctional officers maintain the fitness that they have achieved while they’re in their basic correctional training and we’re hoping to do that through annual fitness tests,” Department of Public Safety Deputy Director of Administration Martha Torney said.
Basic Corrections Training includes 440 hours of classroom time and physical training.
Recruits learn suicide prevention, self-defense, and spotting gang activity.
Torney said the whole training process is about to be scrutinized.
“We are now gonna spend the next two and a half months really looking at every single aspect of our training, determining what can be improved,” said Torney.
They’re also looking at officers already on the job getting remedial training, which is what happened after Munet’s escape.
Because of all the training changes, it will be another four months before another recruitment takes place.
And there could be even more scrutiny on who gets to apply.
An online assessment off all applicants will be added.