Plumbing, cell lock upgrades delayed again at Hawaii's largest prison

Plumbing, cell lock upgrades delayed again at Hawaii's largest prison

HALAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Long-awaited upgrades at the state's largest prison have been delayed again.

The setback is also affecting the transfer of nearly a quarter of the inmates at Halawa Correctional Facility to a prison in Arizona. The move, which was scheduled for this month, is now slated for February.

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety plans to spend $9.9 million to replace the aging locks in the medium security wing at Halawa.

The system failed in 2014 and the state put in a temporary fix. The replacement work was supposed to begin in March, but that was pushed back until October to coincide with a $3.5 million overhaul of the overloaded plumbing system.

BCP Construction of Hawaii, the general contractor for both projects, has started staging and doing some prep work. But a parts delay is pushing back the completion of the project to December 2017.

"The issue we have right now is the components that are needed for the housing are on the mainland," said DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz. "They haven't come in yet, so the contractor said that they need a delay."

The equipment that the state is waiting for includes the locks as well as a closed-circuit digital camera system to upgrade security.

The prison is at capacity with 1,033 inmates as of late September, according to Schwartz. Once the parts arrive, about 250 prisoners will be transferred to Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona for 11 months.

"We are looking at their length of custody, the length of the sentence, and also their custody level, as well as their health," said Schwartz.

The move will allow crews to work on one empty module at a time while rotating the remaining inmates.

Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, said the transfer of more inmates to Arizona is cause for concern.

She added, "I never like shipping people to Arizona, however, I have heard from many, many men who were there, that they would rather be in Arizona because the conditions in Hawaii are so terrible."

The state has set aside $5.9 million to move and temporarily house the inmates in Arizona.

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