Expanded prison space badly needed
Governor Lingle has released money for planning of a new prison and a drug treatment facility for inmates on Oahu.
HAWAII's surging economy and billowing state budget have allowed Governor Lingle to go forward with plans to expand the state's prison space
. Her release of $2.5 million to plan the replacement of the Oahu Community Correctional Center and the building of a new drug treatment facility for inmates should be followed by prison projects on other islands.
More than 2,100 Hawaii inmates are held at mainland facilities because of the limited prison space in the islands. OCCC, Hawaii's largest state prison, now houses more than twice the 628 inmates it was designed to hold. The planned facility, costing $180 million, will be designed for 2,160 inmates.
The drug treatment facility will be designed to hold 466 prisoners. It will be the first prison designed exclusively to rehabilitate inmates with substance-abuse problems.
Hawaii's newest prison was built in 1987, and Carter Goble Associates, a planning and consulting company, reported two years ago that the state's prison facilities have deteriorated. The state's poor economy through the 1990s stood in the way of facility improvements or even needed maintenance. Governor Cayetano scrapped plans for a new prison three years ago because a developer's bid was too high.
Even though the costs of housing an inmate on the mainland are cheaper than keeping a prisoner in Hawaii, mainland facilities have become revolving doors for crime. Recidivism rates for Hawaii prisoners on the mainland are much higher than those kept in the state.
At the beginning of this year, the number of Hawaii inmates, including those held on the mainland, totaled nearly 6,000. Carter Goble projected that number will exceed 7,000 by 2008 and top 8,300 by 2013. Correctional centers will have to be replaced in every county during that period to keep up with the influx, in addition to construction of new special-needs facilities.
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