Locking system failure reported at Halawa Correctional Facility

The state Department of Public Safety is looking into what caused an electronic locking system at Halawa Correctional Facility to malfunction.

The system experienced a power failure Thursday night in one of the prison’s housing modules. Officials say the malfunction did not pose a security risk.

“The facility is secure. The manual locking of the doors is a contingency plan that was built into our system and I can assure the public that there is no security risk or public safety issue,” said Nolan Espinda, public safety director. “Our staff are trained for situations like these and reacted accordingly to maintain security and control in the module.”

Officials say the problem stemmed from a part malfunction in the 30-year-old system, and they’re looking into whether the part can be fixed or needs to be replaced.

In the meantime, the module doors and cells are being opened and closed by key.

The system is already in the process of being upgraded.

The $9.8 million project was in the planning stages when, in late 2014, part of the electronic locking system that affected a different housing module and the special holding unit failed due to a part malfunction in the old system. A temporary, $235,000 fix was made to address the issue until the new locking system could be installed.

Work began to upgrade the system in August 2016.

In February 2017, 248 inmates were transferred to the mainland to clear one housing module, so upgrades could begin in the four housing areas.

The module that failed is next in line for the upgrade.

“The old locking system is the original system that was installed in 1987 when Halawa was built. We had already started the process to replace it before the 2014 malfunction occurred. This system is on its last leg so the replacement project couldn’t come at a better time,” said Espinda.

The locking system upgrades are expected to be completed in December 2017.

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