Understaffed Hawaii jail recruits guards from other islands
KAHULUI, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii’s corrections department has begun recruiting guards from other islands to counter a staffing deficit at a Maui jail, officials said.
Staffing levels at the Maui Community Correctional Center have fallen to the point that the state is flying in guards to fill shifts, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.
The state Department of Public Safety asked guards to commit to working a week at a time at the jail in Kahului.
Hotel, airfare, ground transportation costs and a per diem including a meal allowance will be paid by the department, according to a memo written by public safety director Nolan Espinda.
The memo sent to corrections officers was provided by a Maui jail guard, the newspaper reported.
“Over the last several years, it has been difficult to recruit, hire and maintain” guards on all islands due to a competitive job market. The Maui jail is “extremely short staffed” and guards routinely worked 16-hour shifts, Espinda wrote.
“Temporary relief is essential,” Espinda wrote.
Guards have previously said that, following a riot in March, an increasing number of staff members have not fulfilled their shifts, leaving others to compensate by working 60 to 80 hours per week.
One guard said the National Guard may need to be used to reach safe staffing levels, a warning the safety department did not dispute.
The department has consulted with the United Public Workers, the union that represents corrections officers, said spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.
Schwartz did not respond to questions about the number of guards the department sought for transfer or the amount budgeted for the assignments.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com