KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The public demanded major security upgrades to the Hawaii State Hospital after a psychopathic killer escaped from it last year.
Now, those upgrades could cost taxpayers millions.
After killer Randall Saito walked off the Kaneohe property in November, he caught a cab and two commercial flights, and ended up in California. It took three days for authorities to find and arrest him.
Because of his escape, many security measures were proposed including a fence around the entire 92-acre property with an estimated price tag between $17 million to $24 million.
But some lawmakers are on the fence about the idea.
"We are concerned about the safety and security of the public, so we do need to do something. But we are a little cautious about the $17 million price tag," said House Finance Committee Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Health says to build its new $160 million forensic facility, the city required them to seek funding from the State Legislature to transition the hospital into a "fully secure hospital facility."
She said state experts with the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) determined the cost based on a 12-foot fence with six feet of chain link and six feet of no climb mesh with two rows of barbed wire on top. There would be gates for vehicles and pedestrians and wooded areas would need to be cleared
Senator for the district, Jill Tokuda, says she's not sold on the idea.
"It's not the first time we've had had requests to look at fencing for Hawaii State Hospital. But in terms of this size, $17 to $24 million to build a wall, essentially, around the Hawaii State Hospital, I think we really have to take a look at, at the end of the day, how do we place significant resources to keep people in our community safe," Senator Tokuda said.
Lawmakers will weigh these options at a hearing on Friday.