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What are the real reasons for closing Kulani?


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The closing of Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo presents many disturbing questions about what's driving this administration's decisions.

Is closing minimum-security Kulani really about saving money, or is this back-door privatization of a core government function?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility when the Department of Public Safety has testified to the need for more minimum and community custody beds?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility when its own consultants project that the majority of Hawaii inmates are nonviolent and will be classified as minimum or community custody?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility only to send its minimum and community custody inmates to medium-security private prisons on the U.S. continent?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility that is home to the largest population of sex offenders in Hawaii and the most successful program in the nation (less than 2 percent recidivism rate since 1988) primarily because of Kulani's size and remote location?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility that costs $90.24 a day per inmate to operate (based on 210 inmates) to send the sex offenders to the Federal Detention Center at a cost of $90.90 per day per inmate, plus the additional cost of establishing sex offender services there?

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility while continuing to ship thousands of our prisoners to medium-security private prisons thousands of miles from home and exporting more than $60 million a year from Hawaii's struggling economy?

Why would this administration close a facility that has provided the county with millions of dollars in skilled labor over the years? Inmates at Kulani have provided labor to the county including road building, trimming trees at Hilo Airport, building the education center at Hale Nani, and working on the Pahoa pool.

Why would this administration close a minimum-security facility that prepares individuals to successfully reenter our communities with marketable job skills?

Why would this administration close a facility that needs almost daily maintenance to lease it out to a teen program whose focus is primarily education?

What is it that we are for, Gov. Lingle?

We are for truth, transparency and accountability.

It's time for the real reasons for closing Kulani.

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Kat Brady is coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons in Honolulu.