3 Hilo inmates escape out window
Prison officials deny building construction, overpopulation or staffing played a role
HILO » Three inmates at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo escaped Sunday night by wiggling the metal grating that covered a bathroom window until the bolts holding it came loose, a state official said yesterday.
Kole Kuokamakana Race-Joaquin: He is awaiting trial for car theft and seven drug offenses
Franklin Enos: A former convict on drug offenses, he was being held for violating parole
Shawn DeCosta: He was serving time for car theft and possessing a dangerous drug
The bolts were embedded in lead, a soft metal. State Department of Public Safety spokesman Michael Gaede said the use of lead to secure the grating is standard prison construction.
The inmates were still at large last night after escaping down 30 feet of sheets tied together, police said. The escape happened between checks at 8 and 11 p.m., police said.
It was the second time this year that inmates used sheets to leave the building after escaping through a window.
In June, inmates reached a skylight 25 feet above the floor of a room, left the building and ran across the roof, Gaede said. Officials are still trying to learn how the inmates got up to the skylight, Gaede said.
The inmates who escaped Sunday were identified as Shawn DeCosta, 25, convicted of car theft and possession of a dangerous drug; Kole Kuokamakana Race-Joaquin, 23, awaiting trial for car theft and seven drug offenses; and Franklin Enos, 31, previously convicted of drug violations and being held for parole violations.
Although none were convicted of violent crimes, all should be considered dangerous, Gaede said.
"Everybody that's an escapee is dangerous because of the stress they're under," he said.
He noted that in January another escapee stole a truck by forcing the driver out of it, then led police on a dangerous chase through the streets of Hilo. The man, who was being taken to a medical appointment, escaped by jumping into a getaway car driven by his girlfriend.
Last week the population of inmates at the correctional center reached 302, in a facility built for 226, Gaede said. But he discounted the possibility that overcrowding was a factor in the escape.
Standard procedure is to increase lockdowns when the count gets high, he said.
The facility is also short of guards, but Gaede said it was against departmental policy to release exact numbers.
"We weren't short enough to cause any worries," he said.