Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hawai'i Inmates: It's a Long Way Back Home

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Remember the horrors and corruption involved in keeping Hawai'ian inmates out of state? And David Johnson's report on the futility of out-of-state incarceration as a recidivism reducing measure? Well, don't hold your breath. The inmates aren't coming home any time soon. And, of course, CCA is in the mix. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports:

State prison officials are seeking proposals to house about 1,800 prisoners outside Hawaii after the current prison contract ends in June, despite Gov. Neil Abercrombie's call to bring inmates back home as soon as possible.
"It is very clear at this time that we do not have all the facilities to bring the inmates back," said Martha Torney, deputy director of administration for the state Department of Public Safety. "As the state moves toward bringing the inmates back to the islands, that will determine what our needs are in the future."
The state already has returned some prisoners since Abercrombie said in December that he wants prisoners to stay in Hawaii.
During the quarterly rotation in January, the state brought back about 125 more prisoners than were sent to the mainland, Torney said.
The request for proposals, published March 1, designates a three-year contract, but the state can cancel the contract and remove prisoners at any time, Torney said. The submittal period ends March 31.
One company that plans on submitting an offer is Corrections Corp. of America -- the fifth-largest U.S. prison operator behind the federal government, California, Florida and Texas.
Hawaii has 1,699 prisoners at CCA's Saguaro Correctional Center and 58 inmates at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center, both in Eloy, Ariz., Torney said.
Brad Regens, CCA's vice president of state partnership relations, said CCA is not lobbying to keep Hawaii's prisoners out of state.

Beyond the obvious exasperation, I have two burning questions.

1. Does anyone actually believe Regens? Remember, these are the folks whose money and backdoor wheeling and dealing brought us the horrific and racist Arizona SB 1070.

2. Has anyone given any thought to the fact that, with Hawai'i's low crime rates, most of these people don't need to be in ANY prison - on the island or on the mainland - and therefore, no "facilities" need to be built? We've talked plenty about what California needs to learn from Hawai'i. Now, Hawai'i, learn from California's experience: If you build it, they will come.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a Hawaiian inmate housed in the mainland, away from family and friends, keep looking. You won't find them here.

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