Lawmaker says recent escapes expose OCCC’s security flaws

After escapes occurred Monday and last week at Oahu Community Correctional Center, why does it seem so easy for inmates to keep walking away, and what are officials doing to prevent it from happening again?

On Monday morning, Daniel Skelton escaped from Annex 1 of OCCC, which is an old wooden building that has been modified as a medium security facility.

It’s believed Skelton got on the annex roof and then made his way to the perimeter fencing.

“He may have been able to pry open some boards,” said Ted Sakai, director of the Department of Public Safety. “Again, it’s a wooden building. It wasn’t really built for this kind of inmate. He was able to pry some boards up there and get out from the crawl space and on to the roof.”

Sakai points out that OCCC is overcrowded and that Skelton should’ve been in a module that has more security.

“Well, that shouldn’t be an excuse because the facility should be escape proof,” responded Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety said that Skelton never actually scaled the prison’s fence and that instead he found a weak spot somewhere along the fence.

What and where that weak spot is, she wouldn’t say.

Sakai said “it would be difficult, so that’s why we’re trying to determine where he breached the fence and how he did it.”

Whether any of the guards spotted Skelton as he got out is still unclear. The spokeswoman said there is security footage of Skelton as he was near the fence. But prison officials said they didn’t notice that he was missing until there was a head count at 6 a.m.

Officials say the prison was fully staffed and guards were stationed at the towers and monitoring the security cameras.

“Public Safety is going have to look at this facility and other facilities,” Espero said, “because it is a little embarrassing when a person is able to escape out of your custody from a secured facility.”

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