HCCC warden sentenced to 12 years in prison

(BIVN) – A former correctional officer at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for assaulting an inmate and “his leadership of a multi-year conspiracy to cover up the abuse,” officials say.

From the US Attorney’s Office, District of Hawaii:

United States District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi on November 16, 2022 sentenced a former Hawaii Community Correctional Center Correctional Center Correctional Officer Jonathan Taum, age 50, to three concurrent prison terms, the longest of which was 144 months in the role at the Assaulting an inmate and his leading a multi-year conspiracy to cover up the abuse.

According to court documents and evidence presented at the hearing, on June 15, 2015, Taum supervised his two co-defendants and a third correctional officer while they transported an inmate through the facility. The inmate became frightened as the transfer progressed, and Taum’s colleagues brought the nonviolent inmate to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked him in the face, head, and body. As the other officers beat the inmate, Taum verbally encouraged them to continue. The occupant’s jaw, eye socket and nose were fractured in the course of the attack. In the months and years that followed, Taum led officers into a cover-up conspiracy that included writing false reports, filing false statements on internal affairs, and making false statements to Disciplinary Committee members.

“Protecting the civil rights of everyone in the community, including inmates, is at the heart of our justice system,” said Clare E. Connors, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii. “Wardens in our correctional facilities are held to a higher standard of responsibility, and as this case demonstrates, we will prosecute those who criminally violate the civil rights of those in their care.”

“This case demonstrates the FBI’s vigorous investigation and accountability of anyone who violates an inmate’s civil rights,” said FBI Special Agent Steven Merrill. “We are committed to ensuring that every citizen – whether free or incarcerated – can exercise their protected freedoms without fear of violence. This case should discourage others in positions of power from such behavior in the future.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the indictments in this case. Assistant US Attorney Craig Nolan of the US Attorney’s Office, Special Litigation Counsel Chris Perras, and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department carried out the prosecution.

The Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center has come under increased scrutiny in recent months following reports that the facility is “outrageously overcrowded” and other safety concerns.