HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The severely overcrowded Oahu Community Correctional Community Center will be relocated to the Animal Quarantine Station site in Halawa.
Gov. David Ige made the announcement Tuesday after accepting the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
The existing jail in Kalihi has fallen into disrepair. OCCC's capacity is 954, but 1,222 detainees were being held there on Tuesday. The new jail will have beds for 1,335 inmates, according to the state.
"With this move, we will be able to create a secure, efficient, cost-effective facility," said Ige. "A project of this size and scope will be costly. It is an investment in our future."
The estimated price tag for the project on the 25-acre site is $525 million. The cost includes relocating the Animal Quarantine Station to elsewhere on the property. The state is evaluating financing options, including general obligation bonds and public-private partnerships.
The expected completion date is the end of 2023.
The Animal Quarantine Station was the preferred site for OCCC's home. Also considered: A second location in Halawa, a plot of land at Mililani Tech Park, and a fourth location in Kalihi.
Since OCCC is mainly for detainees awaiting trial and inmates with short sentences, the project won't have an impact on bringing home prisoners sent to the mainland due to insufficient bed space.
Opponents of the project say instead of investing half-a-billion dollars in a new jail, the state should work to keep fewer people behind bars.
"We really want to focus on rehabilitative techniques best utilized across the country so that we can reduce the recidivism rate here in Hawaii," said Nolan Espinda, director of the Department of Public Safety.
OCCC's female inmates will be sent to the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua. The legislature appropriated $40 million last session to expand the Windward Oahu facility.
The state is also working to ease overcrowding at neighbor island correctional centers.
"Two years ago, we were funded for jail expansions in Hilo, on Maui, and Kauai. Those programs and the plans are well underway. We expect to break ground relatively soon on all three of those projects," said Espinda.