It seems like in the human analysis financial concerns are already over-emphasized by the legislature (and still they waste through incarceration of burglars); that's how Hawai'i got into the business of outsourcing their prisoners - the family members of their people - in the first place. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon to "save money" - now we are beginning to finally ask "at what cost?".
Hawai'i - take advantage of this moment in history to tear this system down and start over - when will you or your children ever get another chance? Don't let it pass you by.
Say Needed Now After Two Prison Deaths
KITV 4, Honolulu
POSTED: 5:55 pm HST June 22, 2010
UPDATED: 10:10 pm HST June 22, 2010
HONOLULU -- State lawmakers said Tuesday they are seriously considering a veto override if Gov. Linda Lingle (R) vetoes a bill calling for a cost-benefit audit of a privately run Arizona prison.
The state spends more than $60 million a year to send nearly 2,000 Hawaii inmates to Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., because of prison overcrowding in Hawaii.
Saguaro is run by the Corrections Corp. of America.
Two Hawaii inmates have died at Saguaro Prison in Arizona in less than four months.
Inmate Clifford Medina's cellmate admitted to Arizona police he strangled Medina June 8th.
Bronson Nunuha died Feb. 18 after multiple stab wounds to his neck. Two Hawaii inmates have been indicted in the case on first degree murder and gang related charges.
State Sen. Will Espero (D) said Tuesday, in light of the deaths at Saguaro, it's time for an audit.
"If the governor does veto this bill. I think it would be a big mistake," said Espero. "I think it would be unwise considering in the last several months there have been two murders at Saguaro plus the fact that we pay $61 million a year to CCA to keep our inmates in there."
The Corrections Corp. of America also runs Otter Creek Prison in Kentucky where after allegations of rape and inmate abuse, all Hawaii's female inmates were returned to Hawaii.
Lingle in her potential veto message said an audit of mainland prison operations is expensive and unnecessary.
But Espero said that's not so.
"The governor said it would be too expensive, but in the bill we do not have an appropriation so the auditor's office would be using funds it already has," said Espero.
State Auditor Marion Higa said she is operating under the assumption Lingle will let the audit bill become law.
Higa said next week two analysts from her office will spend the week at Saguaro working beside prisons officials from Hawaii as they do their quarterly quality control inspection. Higa said that will help her analysts begin planning for the audit Hawaii lawmakers requested.
Higa said she expects the prisons audit will be inexpensive because she will use in-house staff and money that has already been appropriated for her department.
Espero said that if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill, he will recommend a veto override.
House Public Safety Chairwoman Faye Hanohano was a prison guard at Hawaii's Kulani Prison for 25 years. Hanohano said she will also recommend an override if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill.
Hanohano said more needs to be known to determine if Hawaii taxpayers are getting their money's worth by sending prisoners to the mainland instead of incarcerating them in Hawaii.
"There is a lot of missing data that needs to be brought out and hopefully an audit will flush it out," said Hanohano.
The Hawaii Prisons Department opposes the audit bill as it is written, it would too expensive and its scope is too broad.
"It is unclear exactly what they are asking to audit," said Hawaii Public Safety Director Clayton Frank.
Frank said the bill calls for the auditor to look not only at the Arizona prison but also the closure of Kulani Prison on Hawaii island, and the state's practice of paying for Hawaii inmates to be housed at the Federal Detention Center at Honolulu International Airport.
Daniel Gluck, an attorney with ACLU Hawaii said an audit of CCA's services at Saguaro Correctional Center could end up saving Hawaii money as it has for other states who have reviewed their own contracts with CCA.
Gluck said after Idaho audited CCA earlier this year, it began withholding $2,600 a day from CCA for its denial of proper health services to Idaho inmates.
" Hawaii allowing a $61 million no-bid contract to go on for 15 years with no independent oversight is an unsound financial practice for the state," said Gluck. "We are hoping that the governor will consider these numbers and allow the audit to become law."