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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2010

Hawaii inmate killed in Arizona prison

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Bronson Nunuha

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Authorities have started an investigation into the killing yesterday of a Hawaii inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, where about 1,900 Hawaii inmates are currently housed.

Clayton Frank, state Department of Public Safety director, identified the inmate who was killed as Bronson Nunuha, 26. He was incarcerated on three counts of burglary in the second degree, and was going to be maxing out on his sentence on Oct. 31, 2010, Frank said.

Frank said Nunuha had been at the facility for about four years.

He said a DPS team will leave for Arizona tomorrow to investigate the death. He also said Corrections Corporation of America, which owns the private prison, has taken steps to increase safety following the death.

Frank declined to comment further on the killing, citing the ongoing investigation.

CCA said staff responded to a report of an injured inmate about 9:30 a.m. yesterday.

Staff found the inmate in his cell with "undisclosed injuries, the apparent victim of an assault," according to a CCA statement.

Paramedics were unable to revive the inmate, and he was pronounced dead at 9:57 a.m.

The CCA statement said the facility has been placed in lockdown status, as is standard procedure.

State Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said his office was informed of the death by state Public Safety officials.

He said it appears the inmate was stabbed, and that the killing may have been gang-related.

Espero said he is awaiting more details on what happened and what DPS will do to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"What this (death) will do is definitely focus attention to the facilities and the care and the processes involved in these Mainland prisons where we are paying a private operator" to house Hawaii inmates, he said. "In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to send them there."

Saguaro Correctional Center is a 1,897-bed prison which opened in 2007 and is owned and operated by CCA.