Wednesday, January 20, 1999

State needs to
find room for
female prisoners

By Gregg K. Kakesako


With opposition by Windward Oahu residents to expanding the women's prison in Kailua, state corrections officials are looking for other ways to control overcrowding.

Legislature '99 Edwin Shimoda, administrator of the Women's Community Correctional Facility, yesterday told the House Public Safety Committee that even after opening an 84-bed housing unit in mid-February, the state will not able to receive 120 female inmates housed at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

The state also has an additional 65 women in an Oklahoma facility.

As of yesterday, there were nearly 200 female inmates at the Kailua facility, designed to hold 174 inmates.

Corrections Director Ted Sakai said the new proposed 2,300-bed medium-security facility planned for the Big Island also won't alleviate overcrowding because it will only house men.

Although there is space at the Kailua facility, expansion isn't feasible since it either would be too close to homes or to Kalanianaole Highway.

Sakai said his staff is looking at continued use of OCCC in Kalihi.

Last summer, the federal courts terminated a consent decree placed over the women's prison and OCCC following a 1984 class-action suit over crowded conditions at both institutions.

Sakai said he expects that OCCC will be removed from the consent decree in June following a federal court hearing on March 8.

Shimoda said all neighbor island facilities also are crowded with female inmates, and future population growth projections indicate "a dire need for additional medium-security beds."

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