State to transfer
inmates from Texas
Some at the Newton facility,By Ian LinD
which holds inmates from an
earlier transfer, will be
moved this week
The game of musical chairs intended to relieve overcrowding in island prisons is expected to continue this week as the state begins the transfer of hundreds of inmates from Texas to facilities in other states.
An administrative spokesman at the Newton County Fillyaw Correctional Center, which now houses 460 Hawaii inmates, said yesterday that the initial phase of the transfer will be completed by the end of the week.
The transfer is to be carried out by the state of Hawaii, and the inmates' destinations are not known by Newton officials, he said.
An inmate at the Newton facility who contacted the Star-Bulletin said 45 inmates are moving this week, with all remaining Hawaii inmates expected to be moved out of Newton by mid-November.
State corrections officials could not be reached for comment yesterday because of the Election Day holiday.
Dan Foley, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who has clients in the Newton facility, said rumors of the move had been circulating for some time. "Everybody's been expecting it," Foley said.
Foley said some of the inmates had been moved to Newton from the Dickens County Correctional Center, which was cited by the Justice Department early this year for conditions found to violate the constitutional rights of inmates.
"Inmates find conditions at Newton worse than Dickens," Foley said.
He said the shift from Newton is apparently part of an effort by state corrections officials to consolidate inmates being held on the mainland.
Foley said recent transfers, while disruptive, have slowly resulted in better conditions as inmates are moved from jails to prisons that have better programs.
Last month, 302 inmates from Hawaii were sent to the 1,338-bed Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minn., a medium-security prison operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.
Another CCA-operated prison, the 1,440-bed North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., currently houses 176 Hawaii inmates, along with prisoners from Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Star-Bulletin writer Crystal Kua contributed to this report.