What’s being done to prevent inmates from escaping or walking away from the Laumaka Work Furlough Program — inmates who are so close to being released, yet for whatever reason, decide not to wait?
“It’s possible that sometimes some of these individuals are just not thinking properly,” said Sen. Will Espero, (D-Ewa, Ewa Beach).
Espero chairs the Senate Public Safety Committee and says the recent escapes from Laumaka could be a sign that the state needs to give inmates more encouragement.
Corrections officials agree. Case managers at the program continue to work with inmates.
“It’s about managing impulse control and having them make better decisions,” said Max Otani, Deputy Director of Corrections.
Laumaka is a transition program for inmates who will be released within a year. They leave to work in the community.
According to the state, on any given day, there are more than 200 inmates out on work furlough through Laumaka.
Part of the salary an inmate earns goes to pay for room and board at Laumaka.
The state says it has recently doubled the capacity of the work furlough program so officials expect more failures.
“I view it as a calculated risk that we allow these people to go out into the community. The more people you have, the chances are, the escapes will go up,” Otani said.
Officials say despite the recent escapes, the program does work.
Each month, the state approves parole for 26 inmates at the work furlough program and seven fail. That’s a 79 percent success rate.
But how else can the state improve and prevent walkaways and escapes?
Within the next month, a handful of inmates at Laumaka will begin a pilot program that’s been in the works. They will wear an electronic device, so the state will know their whereabouts at all times. If this is successful, more inmates at Laumaka will wear one.
“We want to identify specific populations that would need these added supervision and hook them up, possibly using GPS technology,” Otani said.
It costs $5 a day to put an electronic bracelet on an inmate. The state says that’s more efficient than sending staff out to check on the inmates’ whereabouts.