$2.5M plan targets OCCC overhaul
A state-run drug treatment prison is part of the project
THE STATE is putting $2.5 million toward planning to replace the deteriorating Oahu Community Correctional Center and build a new substance abuse treatment facility.
Saying the prison is inadequate, Gov. Linda Lingle said the new prison would replace OCCC beds and add more, which is expected to bring the total to 2,160 beds by 2013.
A report prepared by Carter Goble Associates for the state in 2003 noted that the entire prison system was so seriously overcrowded that it was "a threat to the security of both inmates and staff."
OCCC serves as the jail for persons awaiting trial and for misdemeanor offenders and others with sentences of one year or less. State reports say in 2003 OCCC averaged 1,000 inmates and was 5 percent above its capacity.
Lingle said $1.475 million would go for planning a replacement to OCCC's Kalihi facility and $1 million toward building a state-run drug treatment prison.
The drug-prison plan would include "a treatment-based correctional program to assess the delivery of all treatment and other services to be provided to inmates from the point of entry to their eventual departure from the correctional system," Lingle said in a written release.
Frank Lopez, state interim public safety director, said the drug facility would be for 466 inmates. The study would also look for a site, Lopez said.
Planning for the new facilities is expected to take about two years, Lopez said, but he added that a time limit had not yet been included in the planning.
Shortly before taking over as governor in 2002, Lingle asked Gov. Ben Cayetano to halt a planned expansion of OCCC into Halawa Valley.
At the time, Lingle said she had new information about a prison proposal pushed by Dr. Terry Shintani, co-founder of the Hawaii Health Foundation, who wanted "to use diet to help improve the ability of inmates who have substance abuse problems to be more amenable to counseling."
Lopez said yesterday the Lingle administration talked with Shintani, but the discussions never went forward.
In 2002, Cayetano had been working on a proposal to build a 1,100-bed facility and an 88-bed "super-maximum-security prison" at a cost of $85 million. The plan would have included a second phase, with a 232-bed maximum/medium-security facility and a 300-bed jail at a cost of $31 million.
A private developer's bid was rejected because it cost too much, Cayetano said at the time.
Yesterday, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, Judiciary Committee chairwoman, suggested that the state consider patterning a new OCCC on the federal detention center near the airport.
"People don't realize that the building next to the airport is a federal detention system, not another hotel," Hanabusa said.
"Whatever we build, it should be a vertical model with the high-tech capabilities of the federal center."
PRISON PLAN DETAILS
Appropriation: $2.5 million to start planning for prison and substance abuse facilities
Estimated time for studies: 2 years
OCCC replacement: $1.475 million for planning a 2,160-bed prison
Drug treatment: $1 million for planning a 466-bed facility