Last Friday, after serving only a month behind bars, 89-year-old James Pflueger was released from the Kauai Community Correctional Facility due to medical reasons.
He will now serve the rest of his sentence at home.
Pflueger was sentenced to seven months in prison for the deadly Ka Loko Dam breach that killed seven people in 2006.
KHON2 wanted to know, how often the state grants medical releases, and is there a chance Pflueger could go back to jail.
“Many people will not agree with the decision,” said director of public safety, Ted Sakai.
A difficult decision according to the director, but one he said he had to make.
” I just hope they consider all the things I had to consider,” said Sakai.
That decision allowing James Pflueger to serve the rest of his seven month sentence at home because of a medical condition.
“Our intent was we were going to honor the sentence and that’s what we were doing until I was told by our doctors that there had been, based on some observations and examinations of him, they had some concerns,” said Sakai.
Facility doctors make the recommendation based on an inmates medical status. In this case KCCC could not offer Pflueger appropriate care. If something were to happen to Pflueger after this recommendation the state could be held accountable.
KHON2 wanted to know If these medical releases are common?
Sakai says he grants about 10 each year and to get a medical release, he has to consider the inmate’s risk to the public and what type of care the inmate will receive outside of the facility.
So, how strict are the guidelines for Pflueger’s release?
“He can have family and visitors at his home,” said Sakai. He will also wont be allowed to leave his home and must wear a monitoring device.
As for the people who lost loved ones in the Ka Loko Dam breach Sakai explained why they weren’t told of Pflueger’s release.
“It was the right thing to do so I asked the AG to do the notifications and somehow it fell between the cracks, but we wanted them notified ahead of time,” said Sakai.
If Pflueger’s health does improve Sakai said he will be sent back to serve the rest of his time in jail.