Wailuku County Jail, Maui (detention facility)


US Gov Name Wailuku County Jail
Facility Type
Location ( lat, lng)
Date Opened 1907
Date Closed
Population Description
General Description Held people of Japanese ancestry, citizens and non-citizens.
Peak Population

Following the outbreak of war, one of the first places authorities incarcerated Japanese prisoners on Maui was Maui County Jail, also called the Wailuku County Jail, located on High Street in Downtown Wailuku. It is unknown exactly how many inmates were held and during what time period, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s custodial detention list of December 4, 1941, listed fifty-eight Maui residents to be arrested in the event of war.[1] An FBI memo dated March 30, 1942, indicates that 34 aliens and eight citizens were still interned on Maui as of March 26.

As early as 1904, plans were underway to build the Maui County Jail that would combine various government offices such as the fire, police, and sheriff department. Working with a budget of $8,000, officials built a two-story concrete structure with the top floor used for government offices and the basement divided into cells to house the prisoners. Three years later the structure was completed and further improvements were made in 1925 with the construction of a new 9 x 36 dormitory which is "bright and airy" and used to house the "more trustworthy prisoners."[2] Additionally authorities built two "strong rooms" for insane and unruly prisoners, one room for female prisoners, a fumigating room for clothing and bedding, and storage to house the personal belongings of prisoners. Officials also constructed a large bathroom equipped with four showers and tubs for the prisoners to wash their clothes as well as an open air pavilion with four large tables to comprise the dining hall. Authorities also enlarged the jail yard by about 20 by 60 feet to include a large grass court in the center where prisoners could exercise surrounded by a woven wire fence set on a concrete base about four feet in height.

Prisoners likely encountered these kinds of accommodations when they were housed at Maui County Jail during World War II. Currently, the jail site is the location of a nine-story office building in Wailuku although photographs remain of the original jail.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Honouliuli Gulch and Associated Sites: Draft Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment, May 2014. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2014.

Footnotes

  1. Jeffrey F. Burton and Mary M. Farrell, World War II Japanese American Internment Sites in Hawai'i (Tucson, Arizona: n.p., 2007), 37.
  2. "Shift In Offices To Give Sheriff Plenty of Room," Maui News, June 6, 1925, 1.