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Major security upgrades underway at state’s largest prison

Updated: Nov. 22, 2019 at 10:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Halawa Correctional Facility, the state’s largest prison, can hold 1,124 inmates.

Unlike several other correctional facilities around the state, Halawa doesn’t have a problem with overcrowding. The current capacity is 897.

But that doesn’t mean it’s problem-free.

The facility, the only one in the state that holds maximum security inmates, houses Hawaii’s most serious and violent offenders.

And acting Chief of Security Calvin Mock, Jr. said fighting, gang membership, recruitment and contraband are constant problems.

"Those are all big challenges right now in prison,” he said.

The facility is also in the process of undergoing major security upgrades. Work to replace the prison’s faulty locking system in the medium security housing wing has been completed.

About 250 inmates who were transferred to the mainland while work was being done were brought back on Tuesday.

In addition to the new electronic security locking system, the upgrade included new cameras.

“Cameras all over the place. It helps them, it helps us. You would be surprised how many inmates write me a note, ‘please check the camera on this date at this time for this incident,’” said Mock.

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At the facility, two inmates are assigned to every cell and every inmate has a bed.

“If they’re not here, they go to school, they go to work, they go eat,” Mock said.

Inmates who qualify have jobs at the facility.

"We have everything. We have automotive, we have laundry, commissary, maintenance, mechanics,” Mock Jr. said.

The money they earn can be used to buy goods from the prison store.

Inmates can also take classes online — even get their General Educational Development or college degree.

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