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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Hawai'i inmates in lockdown in Miss.

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i inmates in a Mississippi prison have been in lockdown for the past week after a gang-related fight broke out April 30 in a recreation yard.

A dozen inmates from various gangs at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility were involved, and one of the prisoners was armed with a bat, said Shari Kimoto, Mainland branch administrator for the state Department of Public Safety. There were no serious injuries, and the inmates involved in the ruckus were placed in disciplinary segregation.

Since then, prison operator Corrections Corporation of America placed the entire population of 860 Hawai'i inmates on lockdown while it conducts a search of the facility.

Kimoto said she had not been told of any weapons or contraband seized but is waiting for a final report on the fight and search.

Prison officials last year moved about 40 Hawai'i inmates who were believed to be active prison gang members from the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma to the Tallahatchie facility in an effort to curtail gang activity, Kimoto said.

"We have zero tolerance on any gang activities in any of our facilities on the Mainland," Kimoto said. "This is really sad, because it's these guys who want to promote gang violence, the people who are always getting in trouble, they are the ones who attract the media's attention. This doesn't speak for the other 90 percent of the inmates who are doing really well."

Hawai'i pays $40 million a year to Corrections Corporation of America to house about 1,850 convicts in prisons in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.