New Hawaii Prison Opens in Eloy, Arizona

Published: Jun. 26, 2007 at 11:03 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 26, 2007 at 11:28 PM HST
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Daren Swenson
Daren Swenson

ARIZONA (KHNL) - The Saguaro Prison in the middle of the Arizona desert is a place that has major significance for thousands of people here in Hawaii.

That's because the mainland's newest correctional facility will hold nearly two thousand inmates from Hawaii.

The Saguaro Correctional Center is nearly 3000 miles away from the islands.

The prison is in Eloy, Arizona, midway between the cities of Phoenix and Tucson.

The Saguaro Correctional Center cost 95 million dollars and took 16 months to build. It opened a month early and will hold almost 19-hundred inmates, all from Hawaii.

A prison built in Arizona but made for Hawaiians, opened with a special ceremony.

Inmates guilty of crimes from theft to murder will stay here.

Classrooms and computer labs aren't the only tool for that.

This prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America will observe Hawaiian holidays and ceremonies.

"You know, things about humbleness, patience. Lifestyle, living a good righteous life, being honest, integrity, all those things are imbedded organically in our culture," says Andre Perez, Native Hawaiian Cultural Advisor.

"The time they're spending here with CCA allows them to set the foundation for their treatment programs," Ed Shimoda Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety says keeping inmates here is cheaper.

The warden Says both Hawaii and Arizona benefit.

"For Hawaii it's culmination of a partnership with CCA over the last 10 years of building a facility for them, specifically for them, and for the state of Arizona, it means more than 350 more jobs and tax dollars," says Daren Swenson, Saguaro Correctional Center Warden.

The Saguaro Correctional Center will receive its first inmates later this week, and will be to full capacity by the end of the year.

The prison becomes Eloy, Arizona's largest employer.