By Jim Dooley | Hawaii Reporter
HONOLULU — The other shoe dropped today in the state’s plan to bring all Mainland prison inmates back toHawaii by 2015: construction of new prison facilities on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island to hold some 900 inmates.
The plan was outlined for state senators by Jodi Maesake-Hirata, director of the state Public Safety Department.
There are now 1,738 Hawaii felons serving time in a private Arizona prison at a cost of $63.85 per inmate per day.
When additional costs for medical treatment, travel expenses and other factors are added in, the daily per-inmate cost for out of state incarceration rises to $76.18, Maesaka-Hirata said.
By 2015, all but 750 of those inmates should be back in Hawaii after changes to the criminal justice system recommended by Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration are implemented, she said.
Plans now are to build new a new 400-bed facility at Puunene on Maui, a 300-bed prison on the Big Island (probably in the vicinity of the old Kulani prison camp) and 200 more bed at the Waiawa Correctional Center on Oahu, said Maesaka-Hirata.
Those 900 new prison beds would accomodate all the Mainland inmates and eliminate overcrowding in the state’s current facilities, she said.
No firm costs for the new construction were offered at the hearing.
The state is now paying more than $128 per day to hold inmates in Hawaii prisons, but Maesaka-Hirata said she believes costs may be lowered by offering more community-based programs for the returning prisoners.