Hawai’i should seriously consider a study that recommends spending nearly $1 billion over the next decade on corrections system improvements, a key state lawmaker said yesterday. The Honolulu Advertiser quotes Senate Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa as saying that a consultant’s report, commissioned by the state underlined the urgency in improving the state correctional system.
“I don’t know if we can do the recommendations as set out for that kind of a price tag, but I do realize that the one thing we are going to have to decide as a state is whether we are going to continue to send our prisoners out of state,” Hanabusa said after a briefing on the report by Carter Goble Associates. The report, released in December, said the correctional system is dangerously crowded, poorly maintained, and cannot handle a projected increase in prisoners. It calls for replacing jails in each of the four counties and for adding a new one in Kona. It also urges building new medium- and minimum-security prisons and a secure substance-abuse treatment facility.
Hanabusa will review Gov. Linda Lingle’s proposals for $18.7 million in construction money for a new Maui Community Correctional Center, nearly $2 million for planning replacements of the O’ahu Community Correctional Center and the Kaua’i Community Correctional Center, and $6 million for safety improvements at the Halawa Correctional Facility.
Hawai’i’s correctional system has a rated capacity of 3,369 inmates, but more than 5,650 are in state custody. More than 1,000 of them are serving time in private mainland prisons under contract with the state. The study projected Hawai’i’s prisoner population will grow to 8,320 inmates by 2013.