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State Hospital Staff Cleared of Wrongdoing in Randall Saito 2017 Escape

San Joaquin Sheriff's Office

The State announced today the conclusion of an administrative investigation into Randall Saito’s escape from the State Hospital two years ago.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Joint news conference at State Attorney General's Office

The State’s administrative investigation focused on the State Hospital Staff on duty on November 12, 2017.  That’s when patient, Randall Saito, called a taxi, chartered a plane to Maui, and boarded a commercial flight to California.  He was captured a few days later in Stockton.  Attorney General Russell Suzuki.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
State Attorney General Russell Suzuki


“The investigation reviewed surveillance footage, an examination of hospital records and policies and interviews with personnel.  Our administrative investigation concluded that there are no grounds to take disciplinary actions against any one state employee at the State Hospital, any of the staff members who were on duty at the time that Randall Saito escaped.”


Saito was sent by Court Order to the State Hospital in 1981 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing a woman.  Department of Health director, Bruce Anderson, says Saito was considered a model patient and not a flight risk.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Bruce Anderson, director, Department of Health

 “If there was any problem at the State Hospital it was one of complacency with regard to Randall Saito in particular.  He was there for 30 years and people got used to the idea of him being there.  He never had any problems up to the point of his escape and, if there’s some blame at all it’s that everyone was complacent about the issue. That has changed.”


Security fencing has been installed, patients are tracked and accounted for 3 times a day and are fitted with ankle and waist restraints when off-campus.  The use of a nearby clubhouse for low-risk patients to socialize – which Saito used -- has been temporarily suspended.  Attorney General Suzuki says a separate criminal investigation is underway by another AG section.


“The Criminal Justice Supervisor, Kevin Takata is the attorney that’s heading that investigation.  We tried to keep the two separate and apart from each other so that there would be no contamination between the two.”


Health Director Anderson says the population of the State Psychiatric Hospital has shifted, over the years, to a 94 percent majority of court ordered or forensic patients.  But he says there have been no escapes since the Randall Saito incident and hospital workers placed on leave during the investigation will be returning to work.


“The staff who were on leave have all been notified.  They will be returning to work next Monday.  There were six staff that were put on leave, two of those retired since then.  The four that remain are going to returning to the hospital with additional training.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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