In Malama Pono

After months of inaction by the State to the spread of Covid-19 among staff and inmates at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) — and escalating unrest at the facility — UPW called the situation a crisis and a threat to the safety of the larger community

HONOLULU – Today, in response to escalating unrest and unsafe conditions at Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), United Public Workers/AFSCME Local 646 called on Governor Ige to remove Nolan Espinda as head of the Department of Public Safety. UPW represents corrections officers and staff members at OCCC.

“We’ve been calling for more PPE, more testing, and more realistic options for battling overcrowding. But we are no closer to getting this virus under control, “said UPW Administrator Liz Ho.

“This is unconscionable. This is about the safety of workers and inmates – as well as the safety of the entire community. Under Espinda, the situation only promises to get worse. It is time for Governor Ige to take action and remove Director Espinda and put competent leadership in place at DPS,” add Ho.

Below are excerpts from UPW Administrator Liz Ho’s letter to Governor Ige:

OCCC has become the epicenter of a revolving COVID-19 cluster, putting many lives at risk, including DPS employees, their families and those in the communities they live in.

A resurgence of the coronavirus later this year remains a threat, and there must be accountability now for these documented failures.

As the Governor of Hawai’i, we expect you to take any and all actions deemed necessary to ensure that the needs of the public, including your employees, are being met. That is certainly not the case within DPS. For this reason UPW respectfully urges you to call for the resignation of Director Espinda immediately, and to appoint a more competent and compassionate leader who can fully grasp the situation and lead by example.


Founded in 1944, United Public Workers (UPW)/AFSCME Local 646 represents over 13,000 working women and men across Hawaii, in both the public and private sectors, including hundreds of Department of Public Safety employees. To learn more about UPW, visit

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