Two weeks ago, Halawa Correctional Facility rolled out a new, no-contact visitors center. The goal was to keep contraband from getting into prisoners’ hands.
Dept. of Public Safety director Ted Sakai says the new facility seems to be working for the moment. “It’s still a trial period, but I want to see it run for a few months and see how it goes,” he said.
KHON2 wanted to know if that means illegal drugs and other contraband are no longer getting into the prison.
“Not through visits. We’re finding contraband trying to come in through other means, but not through visits,” said Sakai.
So far, officials say the facility is doing its job in regards to stopping visitor-to-inmate exchanges. But that’s not the only way illegal items can get in.
“Right now we’ve been getting a hit recently on people sending contraband through the mail,” said Sakai.
According to the department, all mail is checked before it enters the facility and prison officials say this keeps drugs from getting into inmates’ hands.
“All inmate mail that is brought in is opened searched and read. The only exception to that rule is our legal mail,” said Toni Schwartz, DPS public information officer.
Mail is considered legal if it’s from government officials, attorney of record and the courts. While staff cannot open these, prisoners are supervised by multiple staff members when they do open them.
“Identified confidential mail is presented to the inmate and the inmate will open it in front of staff and the staff will check it for contraband without reading the mail,” said Schwartz.
If illegal contraband is found in the packages, the prison notifies the proper authorities.
“We need to secure the facility as priority number one,” said Sakai.