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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Man handcuffed to State Hospital gate

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

A prison guard handcuffed a patient to a gate at Hawai'i State Hospital yesterday and left him there when hospital personnel did not immediately agree to admit him, said officials of the public safety and health departments.

The man was freed within 10 minutes and admitted to the hospital when hospital personnel cut the plastic handcuff in two.

The patient had been in the hospital before and had been granted a conditional release. He was picked up Aug. 22, evidently for violating the conditions of his release, and taken to O'ahu Community Correctional Center.

On Friday, a judge ordered him sent back to State Hospital, said Marian Tsuji, deputy public safety director.

The two corrections officers transporting the patient were trying to complete the transfer to the hospital system within 48 hours of receiving the state court order on Monday, under a general 48-hour rule issued previously by U.S. District Judge David Ezra.

Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the health department, said the hospital earlier in the day had asked prison officials for more time to find space in a private hospital for the patient and did not expect his arrival yesterday.

Hospital staff asked the guards to wait with the patient until the matter could be resolved by supervisors, but they refused and left the patient handcuffed to the gate of a fence at Unit H on the hospital grounds, Tsuji said.

Both sides promised thorough investigations of what they called a breakdown in communication.

"We are going to work this out," Tsuji said. "Nobody would argue that this should have happened."

Okubo said the health department was "very, very unhappy with what happened."

She said the patient, whose name and offense were not given, was "very calm, and very appreciative when the handcuff was removed."

Hospital staff were present and watching the patient during most of the time he was handcuffed to the gate, she said.