Legislator alleges prison guard threatened her over budget cuts


POSTED: Saturday, April 10, 2010

State Sen. Donna Kim says she was threatened by a state prison guard during a rally at the Capitol yesterday.

The alleged threat made to one of Kim's office assistants is being investigated by the Internal Affairs Division of the state Public Safety Department, Kim said.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Halawa) said the woman who made the alleged threat was among a group of prison guards who spoke to her office staff about part of the state budget bill, authored by Kim, that would close a portion of Halawa Correctional Facility.

“;She told my secretary that if I got shot while I was driving around it would be my own fault,”; Kim said.

Kim, a veteran legislator who has served in the state House, City Council and Senate, said she called Clayton Frank, director of the Department of Public Safety, to tell him about the incident.


The department's Internal Affairs Division contacted Kim and took a statement from the office worker, Kim said.

“;After it happened a staffer followed her outside and got her name,”; Kim said. “;Yes, I consider it to be a threat.

“;This is the first time I have been threatened like this,”; said Kim, who has been in public office for 28 years.

Frank confirmed that Kim had filed a complaint.

“;She informed me that at the rally, some correctional officers came into the office and someone made a statement that she perceived as a threat and was making a complaint. I informed her that I would send our internal affairs to her and get a statement and we would investigate.

“;We first wanted to get her statement and then see if there was a need for protection.

“;We will see if there are witnesses, and we will confront the alleged correctional officer,”; Frank said.

Kim's office staffers said a group of about 15 uniformed prison guards, members of the United Public Workers union, came into the office to explain why they opposed the prison plans. The corrections officers got “;very emotional”; talking about their jobs and fears of losing them.

Under Kim's plans for the budget, the state would be required to close one module at Halawa and the prisoners would be sent to a mainland prison to save an estimated $8.5 million.

Kim said it was expected that about 20 prison jobs could be lost, but she said that the state prison system already has 75 unfilled corrections officer positions. Frank said the job loss could be as many as 75 because with bumping rights, more senior members would remain and new guards who are paid less would be let go, meaning it would take more layoffs to reach the $8.5 million reduction.

UPW officials did not return a call asking for comment.