The first group of 21 inmates were transported up to Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo Monday morning.
The 280-acre facility reopened on July 1, 2014, after closing in 2009, resulting in the displacement of nearly 100 staff and the transfer of almost 200 Hawaii inmates to other state facilities.
There are currently 56 staff working at the facility.
Sixteen new ACOs started Basic Corrections Training on June 30 and will begin their jobs at Kulani upon graduation in August. In addition, 19 more positions are in various stages of recruitment.
Kulani’s 200 low-risk inmates will return in phases. The rest will return in increments over the next five months.
Vocational training and substance abuse treatment programs will be added through partnerships with community providers and other state departments. The vocational programs include a Facility Maintenance Program, Agriculture/Horticulture Program and other technology career training programs.
“The Facilities Maintenance Program teaches the inmates important trade skills like carpentry, drywall, solar installation, and electrical and plumbing fundamentals,” said Kulani Warden Ruth Coller Forbes. “The inmates will be helping to maintain and upgrade Kulani while learning important trade skills. We want them to leave Kulani as self-sufficient, productive members of society and never come back.”
The Department of Public Safety is also working with kupuna from East Hawaii to develop programs based on traditional Hawaiian values.
In addition, the Departments of Agriculture and Labor are working with Kulani to develop a plan for a sustainable agriculture program that can help inmates develop essential work skills and provide fresh produce for the facility.