State official calls for overhaul of HCCC, describing facility as ‘terrible mess’

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Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:51 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A state Oversight Commission official is calling for the complete overhaul of the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo.

After a recent tour of the facility, Commissioner Ted Sakai called the facility a “terrible mess,” saying HCCC lacked adequate medical and recreational facilities.

Newly-appointed Oversight Coordinator Christin Johnson was also on the tour.

Before a commission panel Thursday, Johnson called the facility “pretty terrible” and that she’d never seen a facility like it. Johnson has previously worked at the infamous Rikers Island facility in New York.

One of the major issues highlighted by the commission was overcrowding.

The most recent report from the Department of Public Safety revealed 328 inmates were being held at HCCC — almost 60% higher than the facility’s capacity of 206.

Johnson told the panel there were inmates being held on bail amounts as low as $15 and efforts should be taken to release low-level offenders.

A state Public Safety official told the Honolulu Civil Beat that overcrowding is not the department’s doing as they can’t turn inmates away.

The official added that repeated requests for funding to the state Legislature to improve and maintain the facility have not been granted.