Bainum backs more
prison cells in crime fight
The mayoral hopeful would work
with the state to find a site
Mayoral candidate Duke Bainum said he would push for more prison cells to tackle drugs and crime.
"When you're out there advocating for more prison space, that's a political hot potato. My point was, if I can help the governor get more prison space, then I'll take the political heat for it," Bainum said yesterday after a speech to the Kalihi Business Association at the Honolulu Country Club.
Bainum outlined his plans to combat crime and drugs, especially crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," through enforcement, treatment, prevention and education.
"We need to beef up law enforcement, but unless we start to offer alternative ways to work with and support law enforcement, criminals will continue to go through this revolving door," Bainum said.
Bainum's plan includes:
» Giving the corporation counsel a new tool called "expedited evictions" to rid city-owned housing of drug dealing, drug labs and crime in a matter of days instead of months; or use the threat of evictions to get drug users into treatment.
» Using underutilized city property to develop drug treatment centers along with nonprofit agencies.
» Using city parks and recreation facilities for after-school programs to keep school-age children away from drugs and crime.
Bainum said he will go before the Legislature and governor and say, "Listen, I'm going to stand shoulder by shoulder with you to help with community relations or whatever it takes to get more prison space, because we need that as well."
After the speech, Bainum said there are many things the city can do to assist in getting another prison built.
"It can be a land swap, it can be zoning," he said. "There are ways we can expedite it. Maybe there's ways that we can work together to find a site that's more suitable and with less community concern."
Former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who helped Bainum draft the speech, said the state cannot continue to ship prisoners to the mainland, a strategy he began when was state public safety director, as a long-term solution.
Bainum's opponent, Mufi Hannemann, said he plans to announce his platform on crime tonight at a fund-raiser at Honolulu Country Club, where he expects a crowd of 3,000.
Hannemann said the endorsements by the police union and two former police chiefs, as well as community work he has done with Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo, support his track record in fighting crime.
Hannemann agrees that more prison space is needed, and he also vowed to assist the state toward that goal.
"The city should help, especially if you have a mayor who has a track record and will to take the heat," Hannemann said. "I've never seen him take the heat."
The state welcomes the city support on building a new prison.
"We are open to any and all assistance in gaining more (prison) capacity," said Mike Gaede, state Department of Public Safety spokesman.
In a telephone interview, Gov. Linda Lingle said she looks forward to whoever is elected mayor. "I agree, a long-term solution is not shipping inmates out of state," she said.
Lingle said the Legislature did not want to fund her proposals for expanding prison space. She said she will go back to the Legislature to try to get them funded.
Star-Bulletin reporter Nelson Daranciang contributed to this report.