Union testifies on prison guard complaints

Douglas Cobile
Douglas Cobile

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's all about what's written in the contract. The majority of the employees have been transferred to other facilities, but at least five guards have to be at the prison at any given time along with a cook to make their meals, the wardens, business manager, clerical worker and others are also still there.

The state couldn't say exactly how much it's costing to have them at Kulani when there aren't any inmates, but it's at least thousands of dollars a day. Especially considering it cost the state $6 million a year to operate and maintain the facility. At a hearing on Kulani some of the guards explained how they spend their day without prisoners.

"So we check fence line and check the infrastructure of the ranch to see if there is anyone vandalizing," Adult Corrections Officer, Douglas Cobile said. "So you're checking to see if anyone wants to come in not get out?" "yes."

The state says it has no choice because it's in the United Public Workers contract to maintain a minimum level of staff at the facility whether there are inmates or not. As for the cook to make their meals, that's also in the union contract to feed the employees. This will continue until the end of the month when they turn the facility over to the National Guard.

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