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Juvenile detention employees say conditions unsafe

HONOLULU (AP) — Employees at a state juvenile detention facility in Kapolei complain staffing shortages create unsafe working conditions.

They say they routinely have to work 16- or 24-hour shifts because of other workers frequently calling in sick. Staffing shortages created by workers calling in sick are also a problem at adult corrections facilities, resulting in frequent cancellations of weekend family visits.

State judiciary spokeswoman Tammy Mori said officials are trying to improve the staffing situation. The facility created 10 new temporary positions in the last two years in an attempt to address the shortage, she said.

The judiciary oversees the juvenile facility for 13- to 17-year-olds who are awaiting trial or placement in mental health or drug treatment programs.

“Obviously it’s unacceptable,” Mori said of working shifts that are 16 hours or longer. “It’s in very rare and also extreme circumstances where we have to have people stay beyond the eight hours.”

Employees will soon be able to wear portable duress buttons they can press for help during an emergency, Mori said.

As of June 13, the facility has spent about $552,000 on overtime, more than twice the budgeted amount for the fiscal year that ends June 30.


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