Women's prison labor available to some groups


POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

Community organizations and agencies that need help on projects may get it at no cost with prison labor by calling Larson Medina, recreational therapist at the Women's Correctional Center.

The Kailua facility's pop-ulation jumped from 200 in-mates to 285 with the return Sept. 3 of women who had been at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky.

“;That caught us off guard,”; Medina said. “;We don't have enough jobs and things to do for everyone.”;

Hawaii women were sent to the mainland prison in 2005 to cut costs. Most were happy there because they had programs and jobs to keep them busy, he said.

“;It was easier for them to do time. Now they're back home, and it's great to see family and friends. But time stands still because there is nothing to do. There aren't enough classes or job opportunities.”;

The Department of Public Safety brought 128 women back from the Kentucky prison—placing some at the federal detention facility—after allegations of sexual assaults by staff on 23 women. One worker was indicted on charges of first-degree rape of a Hawaii inmate at the Otter Creek women's prison on June 13.

Medina said the women have a variety of educational abilities and skills, from sewing, crocheting and knitting to working on computers.

“;We need projects where we could keep them busy and give something back to the community and help out,”; he said. “;We want to combat idleness. It's going to cause trouble for us with nothing to do.

“;I don't want the public to think all we do is play ball all day,”; he added. “;I want something meaningful.”;

In the past, the women made ribbons for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and knitted baby blankets from yarn provided by Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Medina said.

“;When I go home every day, my mailbox is full of stuff”; from nonprofit organizations, he said. “;We could stuff envelopes, and we could do it for free.”;

Medina said the WCC has city-county work lines that do painting, planting and other outdoor projects, but he is focusing on medium status inmates who cannot leave the grounds: “;We have a work force of 60 inside the prison not doing anything, and that is not good.”;

He can be reached at 266-9841 or 772-8042.