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COVID-19 Spread Like 'Wildfire' Through Hilo Jail, Judge Says

prison wire correctional jail
David Madison
Getty Images
Some drops in prison populations were offset by increases at local jails, especially in rural areas.

COVID-19 has swept through the Hawaii Community Correctional Center on the Big Island. A mass testing effort last week brought active cases up to 136 among inmates, along with an additional 11 positive active cases among the staff.

The prison went on lockdown after the first cases were discovered two weeks ago, and halted all virtual hearings for inmates. Robert Kim, Chief Administrative Judge of the Third Circuit Court on Hawaii Island, said the virus spread like “wildfire,” overwhelming their pandemic preparations.

The facility took another hit when an actual fire and other damage caused by inmates took their remote hearing system offline. The Conversation spoke with Judge Kim to get the details.

This story aired on The Conversation on June 8, 2021.

Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
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