At Kulani Correctional Facility, a third of the inmates are enrolled in college courses

Updated: Nov. 29, 2019 at 6:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo has more GED graduates than any other lockup in the state.

The Chief of Security says it is so successful because it is a stepping stone for prisoners who are who are getting re-integrated into the community.

The prison is fully staffed and there are plenty of beds for the all-male population.

There are currently 172 inmates at KCF but the facility can hold up to 200.

Inmates there are taught woodwork, academics and agriculture.

"As long as they have a GED, a high school diploma, GED or enrolled in a GED program, then they will be eligible to work here," said Hawaii Correctional Industries Big Island Operations Manager Gregg Menino.

Inmates who work get paid and can use that money for store orders.

But the goal is to use the skills they learn when they are released.

“We do the academic classes for the GED in the evening,” said Education Specialist Robert Li. “Daytime is for the college classes, the college-related vocational training classes. We do quite a lot."

Li says more than one third of the inmates at KCF are currently enrolled in college courses.

Corrections Recreations Specialist Jamie Rodriguez said the programs they offer also help boost morale.

"Keeping these guys busy as frequently by setting up tournaments, leagues, indoor, outdoor activities,” said Rodriguez. “Everything helps."

Kaipo Dye, the facility’s Farm Manager and Ag Science Instructor, said nationally, 66-percent of inmates will become incarcerated again. But having a two-year degree will drop that by 21-percent.

Dye said the programs offered at KCF are also therapeutic.

“We’re raising chickens for eggs. We do about 150 dozen a month,” he said. “We do a variety of celery, cabbage, wombok, beans, Chinese peas, root crops, you name it. We got it here."

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