Inmates pour into
mainland prisons

A record 1,350 are in out-of-state facilities,
and that number is expected to climb

About 1,350 inmates, nearly one in four Hawaii prisoners, are locked up in mainland prisons, the highest number ever, and that total is expected to go even higher, said John Peyton, state Department of Public Safety director.

The state sent 150 inmates to the mainland in November and brought back 50. It plans to send an additional 100 to the mainland this year, he said. There are about 4,220 inmates in Hawaii's prisons.

But Peyton would not comment on reports that as many as 1,000 Hawaii inmates would be transferred to a prison in Mississippi. He said transfers are not discussed in advance for security reasons.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Mississippi Department of Correc- tions said Hawaii is expected to send at least 500 maximum-security inmates to a prison in Tutwiler. Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said the inmates are in Arizona facilities, according to the AP, and he said they should arrive in Mississippi as early as next month.

After the first 500 Hawaii inmates arrive in Tutwiler, there has been reports of 500 more prisoners arriving from Hawaii, Epps told the AP. He said he has had recent discussions with the Corrections Corporation of America and officials in Hawaii.

If 500 are shipped out, the percentage of inmates in mainland prisons will rise to about 33 percent of Hawaii's prison population.

Amalia Bueno, assistant to the deputy director for cor- rections, said no inmates are heading to Mississippi.

"We're not transferring inmates from Arizona to Mississippi," she said. "We have a bed space problem. We're exploring all possibilities."

At the time of the November transfers, there were 4,220 inmates in Hawaii facilities for 3,487 beds.

The state's contract with the Arizona prison expires in June, Bueno said.

The Corrections Corporation of America also operates the two mainland prisons that house Hawaii male inmates: Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla., and Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz.

Female inmates are in the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility in McLoud, Okla.

The cost of the November transfers is $2 million. Gov. Linda Lingle is asking state lawmakers to approve an emergency appropriation to pay for the transfers.

Lingle is also asking the Legislature for an additional $6.3 million in next year's budget to transfer an additional 100 inmates to the mainland and to pay for the added cost of housing the additional inmates in the mainland facilities.

She also wants $900,000 to house 25 more inmates at the federal detention center in Honolulu.

Lingle has not unveiled plans to build new prisons. She has asked lawmakers to reauthorize $18.7 million in construction money to replace the Maui Community Correctional Center and $2 million to plan replacements for Oahu Community Correctional Center and Kauai Community Correctional Center.

Dept. of Public Safety

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