Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Mainland, Kauai
possible prison sites

From staff and wire reports


With state lawmakers refusing to budget $130 million to start construction of a 2,300-bed prison near the Big Island's Kulani prison camp, that may mean the state might have to build its own prison on the mainland, Gov. Ben Cayetano says.

Officials in a county near Las Vegas want a Hawaii-owned prison in their jurisdiction as a way of encouraging economic development in the area, Cayetano said yesterday.

He considered their suggestion previously, but now he's resurrecting it, Cayetano insisted.

The price tag would be 33 percent to 40 percent of the cost to build in Hawaii, he said.

Cayetano didn't identify the county, but it is said to be across the Colorado River from Nevada in Arizona's sparsely populated Mohave County.

Meanwhile, Kauai has surfaced as another possible site for a prison. A coalition of business, union and community leaders is being formed to test the community's reaction to building a state prison in the Lihue area, Rep. Bertha Kawakami (D, Hanapepe) confirmed.

Kauai native Gary Rodrigues, state director of the United Public Workers union, said he believes Kauai residents might support the idea.

House Public Safety Chairman Nestor Garcia (D, Waikele) said he was aware that a Kauai site is being proposed. Garcia said, however, he wants to leave site selection up to Cayetano.

Big Island Sen. David Matsuura has said he has community support for a privately built and operated 2,000-bed prison near Hilo.

The governor yesterday challenged Matsuura.

"What I want Senator Matsuura to do is get a petition and get his campaign workers and flood the area and get the people in the area to sign and say they want to put a prison there," Cayetano said.

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