The head of the state's Department of Public Safety says crews are working with an exterminator to solve an ongoing rodent infestation issue at the Halawa Correctional Facility.
DPS Director Nolan Espinda says the prison's new rat problem was discovered during an ongoing construction project.
According to State Sen. Will Espero, an inmate at the prison filed a complaint that alleged rat feces could be found in each of the prison's eating areas, and that prisoners were getting sick due to exposure.
The inmate also suggested that rat poison was being used, an allegation Espinda denies.
"We do not use poisons, so any insinuation of poison or people being sick from rat poison, food stuff or utensils being contaminated is simply not true," he said.
Espinda also says that the prison's food preparation areas have been inspected and comply with all safety guidelines.
"We have a green placard that we proudly display based on our sanitary and inspection that was conducted on Sept. 25," said Espinda. "We fully expect and welcome, based on this complaint, the possibility of a follow-up inspection."
Two large-scale projects are underway at Halawa: one meant to replace the prison's aging plumbing lines, and the other to upgrade a 30-year-old automated lock system. The total cost for both projects is about $13 million.