What will happen to state hospital escapee when he returns to Hawaii?

Provided by San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office

Once Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito is back in Hawaii, he won’t go directly back to the hospital.

Instead, he’ll be brought to Oahu Community Correctional Center, where he will likely stay until his trial for escape is over.

If he is able to post a half-million dollars in bail, he will return to the custody of the state hospital.

So what happens if Saito is found guilty of the escape? Will he go to jail or back to the state hospital?

Digging deeper, we talked to an expert to find out what could happen.

In 1981, Saito was acquitted of murder because he was mentally incompetent.

But after pulling off an escape that took him all the way to California this week, Attorney General Doug Chin believes Saito is fully aware of his actions.

“I think it’s pretty clear based upon our filing of these charges that this was premeditated. It was intentional. It was planned, and this is something that was not done by somebody who was suffering any sort of mental defect or disability,” Chin said.

If Saito is sane and is convicted of escape, the maximum penalty is only five years in prison.

Once that’s done, will he be allowed to walk the streets again?

“Well if he gets sentenced to prison, he’ll serve his prison time,” said Ken Lawson with the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law. “Then once he’s released from prison, he’ll go back to the mental hospital until a court determines that he’s restored to sanity.”

A panel of doctors will determine Saito’s sanity. They’ll be tasked with not only determining whether he was well aware of his actions at the time of the escape, but also looking at a bigger picture.

“If he’s sane enough to commit this crime, that does not mean that he’s been restored to sanity with respect to the legal standard that’s necessary in order for him to be released back into society,” Lawson explained.

If he is convicted, Saito’s mental health will be looked at over and over again.

Since his commitment to the state hospital, Saito has repeatedly argued that he should be released, but every time, doctors have argued he’s just too dangerous to be out on his own.

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