Inmate punished for whistle-blowing, supporters say


POSTED: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friends and relatives of Totie Nalani Tauala said she is being held in an inmate security facility in Denver rather than being returned to a Hawaii prison because she is a whistle-blower.

Tauala was one of the female Hawaii inmates being held at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Wheelwright, Ky., before several sexual assault allegations surfaced and they were transferred out of the prison.

Many of the inmates were brought back to Hawaii in August and September, but Tauala was transferred to a state women's facility in Denver.

Nearly a dozen friends, relatives and supporters held a “;Bring Totie Home”; gathering at the state Capitol yesterday.

Tauala's aunt Mary Dias said she believes her niece is being punished because she reported being raped at the facility in 2007.

Hawaii Public Safety Director Clayton Frank denied the allegation and said Tauala was transferred to the facility in Denver because of “;maximum custody”; classification and two assaults on inmates.

“;The other inmates were not in maximum custody,”; Frank said.

Tauala, 35, was serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter when she was allegedly sexually assaulted in prison.

She was convicted for fatally shooting Hayward Julio in his car on Waipio Point Access Road in August 2002.

Tauala was distributing “;ice”; and was on parole for a 1994 case in which she was driving drunk and crashed, killing her passenger, according to a deputy prosecutor.