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Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

nix mainland/
private prison

The governor's plan seems dead,
and even a privately run prison on
the Big Island appears unlikely

By Richard Borreca


In the face of increasing legislative resistance, Gov. Ben Cayetano has apparently given up on his plan to build a mainland prison to house Hawaii inmates.

And the state House has even rejected Cayetano's demand that any new prison be privately operated.

Legislature 2000 Cayetano had hoped to save more than $50 a day per prisoner by building a privately run prison on the mainland rather than in Hawaii.

This week, the Senate joined the House in rejecting Cayetano's mainland prison idea.

"The Legislature has pretty much foreclosed the idea of a mainland prison. It looks like both sides have made up their mind that they want it on the Big Island," Cayetano said yesterday at a news conference.

While the Senate was taking $6.5 million out of Cayetano's proposed budget for a 2,300-bed mainland private prison, it was redirecting the money to more immediate needs such as repair and maintenance of educational facilities statewide.

The House Finance Committee, meanwhile dumped its idea for a privately run prison on the Big Island and instead called for a private company to simply build a prison on Big Island property.

Rep. Nestor Garcia, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, called the new House bill "very stripped down."

"Any real talk of a private operation is not there," said Garcia (D, Waipahu, Crestview).

The committee report attached to the measure, Senate Bill 2433, House Draft 2, notes that the Finance Committee deleted the contents of the proposal and changed it to simply allow the governor to "negotiate for the development of a private correctional facility."

The private prison proposal had already run into opposition from Gary Rodrigues, United Public Worker state director, who threatened to sue the state to block a privately run prison in Hawaii.

Nothing will happen this year, Cayetano said, if the Legislature doesn't give him the money for prison construction.

"I've asked for them to give the administration some flexibility," the governor said.

Because of overcrowding, the state now pays about $20 million to a private corporation to house 1,200 Hawaii inmates in different prisons on the mainland.

The contract to keep them there expires in about a year and the cost is expected to rise under a new contract.

Get involved

You can track bills, hearings and other Legislature action via:

Bullet The Legislative Reference Bureau's public access room, state Capitol, room 401. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Phone: 587-0478; fax, 587-0793; TTY, 538-9670.

Neighbor islanders, call toll-free and enter ext. 70478 after the number:

Big Island, 974-4000; Maui,

984-2400; Kauai, 274-3141;

Molokai and Lanai, 468-4644.

Bullet The state's daily Internet listing of hearings:

Bullet The Legislature's automated bill report service: 586-7000.

Bullet The state's general Web page:

Bullet Our Web site:

Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes
Legislature Bills

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