State discusses OCCC overcrowding, move could cost $489 million


Plans to move Oahu Community Correctional Center to a new facility on the grounds of Halawa Correctional Facility would be costly.

During a meeting Thursday, public safety officials gave lawmakers an estimate of $489 million.

The goal is to reduce overcrowding, and lawmakers have said upgrading the current facility could end up costing more than building a new one.

The state is also open to proposals to make some money from the land OCCC currently sits on in Kalihi. Earlier this week, the governor said the land could be used for affordable housing and commercial development.

“We hope, of course, that this is going to bring in multiple bidders with new and proven ideas that we can entertain, review and hopefully enter into an agreement through the governor’s office to the best interest for the taxpayers of Hawaii,” said Nolan Espinda, director of the state Department of Public Safety.

Rep. Gregg Takayama, D, Pearl City, Waimalu was at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’m glad that the administration has committed to looking at alternatives that possibly reduce the amount, and that could be an arrangement with a private developer of a jail to look at possibly leasing back that facility from a private person, a private developer. I think that could potentially save us some money,” he said.

Espinda says right now there are 1,157 male inmates at OCCC. The 16-acre facility has 950 beds. The rest sleep on mattresses on the floor.

“Overcrowded conditions impact everyone, inmates obviously, because they are there 24/7, but essentially the staff also,” Espinda said. “Those are very difficult conditions to work under. They lead to and add to problems we have with attendance, sick leave use.”

Here’s the breakdown for the total cost:

Planning, design and construction would cost $423 million. Infrastructure would cost $66 million.

“There are a lot of questions of not only the cost, the inmate population, would that be adequate if you rebuilt it?” asked Sen. Clarence Nishihara, D, Waipahu, Pearl City.

Discussions are still in the early stages, and there is no estimated date for a move at this time.

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