State focuses on efforts to reduce prison contraband


It’s an ongoing challenge for state officials. How do you to stop contraband from getting into the hands of prisoners?

In May, Halawa Correctional facility rolled out a new no contact visitor center, which was built to crack down on the flow of drugs and contraband which was finding it’s way in through visits.

The new facility now keeps visitors and inmates separated by a glass, but is it working?

“We haven’t caught any visitors trying to bring drugs in,” said Director of Public Safety, Ted Sakai.

A good sign and although still early a sign things are working for the moment.

“I think there are two indicators of how well it’s working,” said Sakai. “We’ve seen efforts to bring drugs and other contraband through other means, the mail, drop offs outside the facility hoping some inmate work lines would pick them up and we’ve intercepted those on a regular basis.”

Another promising indicator according to Sakai are the drug testing results. Last year, at least 10 percent of drug tests at Halawa came back positive according to Sakai. Now with the new changes those numbers have dropped.

“For July we did 156 tests and had one positive,” said Sakai.

But that one positive drug test shows that drugs can still find their way in. Because of that, Sakai says he’s also looking at security measures for adult corrections officers, recently two ACO’s were arrested for bringing in contraband.

That brings up the question of security pat downs or better equipment.

“We’re going to have to dedicate staff to be up front to guard the gate but the big thing is we’re not really anxious to have ACO’s pat down other ACO’s,” said Sakai

“We have and are formulating a plan, but unfortunately we are going to need a lot more equipment and we don’t believe we have enough staffing,” said Sakai.

But until they get more funding in the budget and address some of their staffing needs none of this can be done.

“That’s going to be costly and that’s another budget request we’re going to have to make,” said Sakai.

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