A new visitors policy at Halawa Correctional Facility is aimed at stopping the flow of drugs and other illegal items into the prison.
While it seems almost impossible, the head of Hawaii’s Dept. of Public Safety said contraband is still being smuggled into the prison.
“We had information that a lot of it was coming in through visits, so in an effort to reduce the flow into the facility, the warden proposed we do this,” said the department’s director, Ted Sakai.
The solution was to build a new, no-contact facility to prevent inmates from having physical contact with their visitors and communicate through glass instead.
“(The facility) just opened so I believe we will see a decline in contraband, but it’s a little to early to tell,” said Sakai.
While the new security measures should take care of visitors bringing in contraband, what’s stopping the guards themselves? Two officers were recently arrested for bringing in illegal substances.
“As we get information on staff who may be involved with this, we will follow up and we will track them down and we will get them,” said Sakai.
While the prison aims to crack down on this problem, officials are also addressing staffing needs.
Before the new facility, six guards would have to be on duty. Now, they only need four.
The change means fewer cancellations for prisoners with visitors.
“If the visitors officer calls in sick, if one of them called in, we would have to cancel visits, but now with this new setup, we can run with as few as four,” said Sakai
In terms of what they’re telling visitors with loved ones in prison, “it’s unfortunate, but a few visitors and inmates have basically spoiled it for everyone,” said Sakai.
The new facility cost $100,000 and was built by the inmates.