HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -Hilo‘s jail is the most overcrowded correctional institution in the state.
Hawaii Community Correctional Center was originally designed to house 206 inmates. But current numbers far surpass that at 420 inmates — which makes the jail more than 85-percent over capacity.
“We normally have about three per cell. Maybe the larger cells, we may have up to four,” said HCCC Warden Peter Cabreros.
Since the overcrowding is so extreme at HCCC, in addition to cells, the jail is also comprised of large open rooms where inmates all bunk together.
The Waianuenue building, where sentence inmates are housed, is supposed to hold 40. However Friday’s headcount was more than double that at 85. Therefore, most inmates sleep on the floor.
Warden Cabreros said another unit also has a mixture of both male and female inmates because of the limited space.
Cabreros said it is difficult to expand because of the limited acreage, but some slight relief is on the way in the form of a new housing unit that is currently in the works.
“Demolished the old jail to make room for a new housing unit within the next few years,” Cabreros said.
The new housing project in would add 48 more beds. Cabreros said it won’t solve all their problems, but it will help alleviate some tension.
There are currently 172 inmates at Hilo’s prison, Kulani Correctional Facility, although it can hold up to 200. There is also a full staff on board.
KCF Chief of Security Kellie Kent said since inmates are toward the end of their sentencing and are trying to go home to their families, there aren’t too many problems there.
It is a minimum security prison where inmates learn woodwork, refurbishing, maintenance and farming.
They also hold jobs at the facility and money earned can be used to buy goods from the prison store.
“A high school diploma, GED, or enrolled in a GED program — then they will be eligible to work here,” said Gregg Menino, Hawaii Correctional Industries Big Island Operations Manager.
Prison officials said KCF has the highest number of GED graduates in the state and there are 60 inmates currently enrolled in college courses.
The facility’s Corrections Recreations Specialist said the programs they offer helps boost morale.
“Keeping these guys busy as frequently by setting up tournaments, leagues, indoor, outdoor activities, giving them things to do within the dorms, card games, board games, whatever it may be and then whatever we got on the compound to get them physically fit as well, everything helps,” said Jamie Rodrigues.