Prison guards lobby lawmakers over proposed cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Prison guards lobby lawmakers over proposed cuts

Dayton Nakanelua Dayton Nakanelua
Matt Manuma Matt Manuma
Sen. Will Espero Sen. Will Espero
Rodney Chang Rodney Chang

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- They guard criminals at Halawa Correctional Facility.

But Friday about 100 Adult Corrections Officers patrolled the State Capitol, urging lawmakers not to close a module at Halawa.

"I love my job. I am secure. That's my profession," said Matt Manuma, a guard at Halawa for more than 20 years.

Manuma is featured in a full-page newspaper ad taken out by the United Public Workers.

It said closing part of Halawa would cost 70 guards their jobs and send hundreds of inmates to mainland prisons.

"It creates jobs in the mainland. We need the jobs here in Hawaii. We need to protect the economic and financial security of our families," UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua said.

Manuma said getting laid off could cost him his home.

"We'd lose our place. We'd lose our house, probably everything else that we have. It would destroy our credit," he said.

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-14th (Moanalua, Aiea), made the proposal as part of the Senate's version of the budget.

She said the UPW ad incites the guards by giving them false information. She said closing a module would affect 24 positions not 70.

"There are 76 funded vacancy positions throughout the corrections system and $3.6 million in appropriations," said Kim, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "I don't anticipate the 24 corrections officers would lose their jobs."

But Sen. Will Espero, D-20th (Ewa Beach, West Loch), said it would be a waste of money to ship more Hawaii prisoners to the mainland.

"We're exporting $60 million plus to the mainland and that money can be better spent locally," he said.

Espero wants to identify up to 500 non-violent inmates for early release, work furlough programs, or electronic monitoring.

He said that would clear space to bring Hawaii prisoners home, save millions of dollars, and keep the guards at work.

"We're just people trying to make a living just to support our families so we can live in Hawaii. And Hawaii's so expensive," Halawa guard Rodney Chang said.

The state could save $6 million by closing the module.

But the men and women who guard inmates in the medium- and high-security facility wonder what the bottom line would be for them.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- About 200 United Public Workers union members, half of them prison guards, sign-waved and went door-to- door at the State Capitol Friday.

They were protesting a budget measure in the legislature that would close a module at Halawa Correctional Facility.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-14 (Moanalua, Aiea), chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the move could save $6 million dollars by sending hundreds of inmates to the mainland.

The complete story tonight on Hawaii News Now.

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