Shocking new allegations from within Oahu Community Correctional Center are contradicting what officials say happened when inmate Daniel Skelton escaped.
Skelton was taken into custody by U.S. marshals and sheriffs Wednesday afternoon after two days on the run. He was arrested in Nuuanu, his hair dyed orange-blond and his face painted black.
Sources inside the prison confirmed what KHON2 had been hearing for the past few days — that Skelton escaped the night before and the hole he climbed through had actually been around for several months.
Prison officials said Skelton broke out of Annex 1 through a hole in the bathroom ceiling. Sources said that hole had been there for at least eight months and when another inmate tried to escape through it, he was caught by corrections officers who dragged him down.
Sources told KHON2 that surveillance video shows Skelton escaped at around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, not Monday morning as officials stated.
Sources also said what prison officials described as a “weak spot” on the perimeter fence was actually an open gate on the Ewa side of the prison and that Skelton simply walked through it.
Sources said that gate is usually left open during the day when guards are nearby but should have been locked at night.
As to why the guards never sounded an alarm, KHON2 was told it happened during a shift change, so guards at the towers didn’t even notice. Skelton apparently knew when the shift change was supposed to happen.
When KHON2 went to the Dept. of Public Safety to confirm the information, director Ted Sakai was not available and spokesperson Toni Schwartz sent an email saying they could not talk because it’s still an ongoing investigation — one that would take months to complete.
Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, a former public safety director, said he isn’t surprised by the lapse in security “because of how they’re running the whole prison system. You’ve got to stop blaming the staff. You’ve got to stop blaming the facility, and you’ve got to do something about it.”
Kaneshiro acknowledged that OCCC is overcrowded, but he said the department has done nothing to fix it.
He added that Sakai should be more open about the investigation because it concerns public safety.
“The public has the right to know when an act is done and it jeopardizes public safety,” he said. “They have to be assured that something like this is not going to happen again.”
Kaneshiro said problems at the prisons will continue to weaken the criminal justice system, which in turn, puts the general public in harm’s way.