Fixing the latest safety problems at the Halawa Correctional Facility is going to cost more than $261,000.State prison officials had expected to complete the job by last week but they now say the fixes will take four to six weeks."It's not a simple job," said Department of Public Safety director Ted Sakai."Because the system is so old, (the contractor) had a hard time finding the right part. He finally found the right part. He installed it and it didn't work."The problem is with the automated doors that hold about 15 percent of Halawa's inmates, including 20 of its most dangerous prisoners.Earlier this month, prison guards noticed that the remote control devices for those doors didn't work, forcing them to manually open and close doors with old-fashion keys.Sakai said the contractor initially thought it could fix the problem temporarily by installing a new computer part.But it later found out that it needed to create an entirely new control system that bypasses the previous system.
Lawmakers say the problems are hardly a surprise given the aged of the prison, which first opened in 1962, and the condition of the automated door system, which was installed in 1987.
"It's probably due to a little bit of everything: the aging facility and aging minds and brains," said state Sen. Will Espero.
So far, there have been no incidents but some prison guards have expressed worries about their safety."I understand their concerns but I have given the warden full authority to staff to the level he needs to," said Sakai.Prison officials will have to make do with the temporary fixes for a year-and-a-half. That's when an $8 million remodel for Halawa is expected to be completed.Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
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