Saturday, June 23, 2007


Hawaii Mainland prisoners to be housed in new but unregulated facility

The Star-Bulletin website carried an Associated Press article today reporting that the new Corrections Corporation of America prison to open next week in Eloy, Pinal, County, Arizona will house only Hawaii inmates. The article waxed enthusiastically:

Because only Hawaii prisoners will be serving time inside the campus-style facility, the prison will observe island holidays, accommodate natives’ polytheistic religious beliefs and even serve Hawaiian food.

Unfortunately, conditions for these prisoners may be far from idyllic. The AP article fails to mention that as a private prison housing only out-of-state inmates, the CCA facility will not be subject to protective Arizona state regulations governing other Arizona prisons. Without state regulation, CCA can run the prison basically as they wish, placing Hawaii inmates at risk.

And there is a great risk. In April, 2003, for example,the state of Hawaii was sued by an inmate of the CCA-run Florence Correctional Center who claimed he was badly beaten by a prison gang that was given unprecedented privileges by the warden and guards. In 2006 a drug ring was discovered in the same prison, run by the prison kitchen supervisor and truck drivers from a food service company.

Aside from the lack of protection at the Eloy facility, the contract for the new prison assures that Hawaii inmates will continue to be shipped to the Mainland for some time, separated from their families and subject to the gang activity that has plagued these prisons.

Finally, there are still questions clouding the letting of the non-bid contract itself (see the January 21, 2007 Advertiser story, State's prison deal 'unusual'.

An Arizona mayor who signed off on part of a multi-million dollar government contract to house Hawaii inmates in prisons on the Mainland also is an employee of Corrections Corp. of America, the company that holds Hawaii inmates at the privately owned Arizona prisons.

The contract was not let out for bid because it was a government-to-government transaction between the state of Hawaii and Eloy, Ariz., that is exempt from competitive bidding.

Sure. The mayor worked for CCA and it is a government-to-government contract?? Eloy is heavily dependent on CCA for the jobs they bring to the town.

Not only is Hawaii's practice of sending inmates to the Mainland contrary to our interest as citizens in rehabilitation, it is equivalent to sending them off for an education in crime, which they can practice on us when they are eventually released back to the islands.

What is needed is reform of Hawaii's drug laws and investment in proven treatment and prevention programs as an alternative to incarceration. We could easily empty the Arizona prison and lower, instead of potentially raise, the crime rate back home.


very good Larry. there is always another side & i wish others could remove their glasses & see the sad reality besides only the $$$$$. $50M going every yr to prisons away. $$ would be better spent & cheaper on costs for treatment & programs here in hawaii per inmate where the families can stay together!!!

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