'This big jail is not needed': State's plan to relocate OCCC faces opposition

Public sounds off on new site for OCCC
Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 2:57 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2017 at 5:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's preferred plan to build a replacement for Oahu Community Correctional Center is facing opposition from the public -- or at least those who showed up at a town hall meeting to discuss the draft environmental impact statement for the project.

Close to a hundred people attended the meeting at the hospitality room at Aloha Stadium. About 20 people signed up to speak, and most of them were against building the new facility.

The state's preferred site for a new prison is the current Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa. Officials said it will have the lowest cost at about $525 million, and also because it would face minimal public opposition.

"As part of the community that has been identified as having minimal local opposition, I want to say that I am opposed to the animal quarantine site," Kimberly Moa told the gathering.

Moa also said she was concerned because some members of the public, like Native Hawaiians, did not have input.

"I also take issue with the fact that this whole process of public engagement has not involved groups and organizations that represent that community," she said.

Others also expressed the belief that reforms are needed, not more prison cells.

"This big jail is not needed," said Raelyn Reyno Yeomans. "We have a problem with our jails being filled with pre-trial people. There's a lot of reforms that other states have enacted to reduce their jail population."

But state Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda says a new facility is critically needed.

"It's critical in that the institution is grossly overcrowded. The institution is very old. It's outdated. It's expensive to operate," he said.

The public still has a chance to comment on the draft EIS through January 8.

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