An inmate who died at the Maui Community Correctional Center on Wednesday was the fifth suicide at the Maui jail in less than five years, according to staff at the facility who are familiar with the deaths.

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Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz confirmed that a male inmate was found “unconscious and unresponsive” in his cell at the jail at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. She did not give the cause of death.

 

Employees immediately began administering aid, called for help and performed CPR until emergency medical services arrived to take over lifesaving procedures, she said in a written statement. The inmate, who was identified only as a male between 30 and 40 years old, was pronounced dead by emergency medical workers at about 7:30 p.m.

“As is normal procedure, Maui Police were notified and an internal investigation as well as a law enforcement investigation are pending,” Schwartz said in her statement. “PSD won’t be commenting further, at this time, in order to allow the ongoing investigations to take their course.”

Staff at the Maui Community Correctional Center say there have been five suicides at the jail in the past five years, including a death on Wednesday. Yoohyun Jung/Civil Beat/2019

The department does not release the names of inmates who die in custody or describe the circumstances surrounding their deaths in most cases, but jail staff who spoke on condition that they not be identified said the prisoner who died on Wednesday had hanged himself.

Suicides in correctional facilities are difficult to track because the Hawaii system releases little information about each case, and does not publicly announce deaths inside as they occur.

However, the state Legislature voted just weeks ago to pay $550,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in connection with another suicide at MCCC involving Daisy Kasitati, 26, who hanged herself in her cell on the afternoon of Oct. 12, 2017.

Daisy Kasitati killed herself at MCCC in 2017. Submitted

Kasitati had suggested to a corrections officer hours before her death that she be placed on suicide watch, but no effort was made to get medical help for her or to place her on watch status, according to testimony submitted to lawmakers by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Documents filed with Gov. David Ige’s office confirm that another MCCC death last year was also a suicide.

Those documents show that a male inmate in his 50s killed himself at MCCC on July 8, 2021, and noted that additional funding was necessary and mental health staff needed to be recruited to improve mental health services at the jail. Staff identified the inmate in that case as William Robert Morrison, 52.

MCCC staff said two other deaths at the facility in the past two years were suicides.

One was the death of Lewellyn Foster Jr. at the Maui facility on Dec. 7, 2020, which staff said was also a suicide by hanging. A report to the governor in that death noted that “mental health staffing was a critical factor” in that case.

Maui jail staff also said a male inmate died by suicide at the jail on Dec. 27, 2021. The report to the governor on that death did not provide any details on the case, but staff identified the prisoner as Brandon Tapec, 28.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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