SENATE HOSTS SITE VISITS TO THE OʻAHU COMMUNITY CORRECTIONAL CENTER AND HALAWA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
News Release from Senate Democratic Caucus, July 12, 2023
Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee hosted site visits to the Halawa Correctional Facility, O’ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), and the Laumaka Work Furlough Center. The purpose was to bring awareness to initiatives to modernize our public safety facilities, disrupt pathways to prison, and reduce recidivism.
Luis Salaveria, Director of the Department of Budget and Finance, discussed options for financing the new OCCC. Tommy Johnson, Director of the Department of Public Safety, and Keith Regan, Comptroller for the Department of Accounting and General Services, presented their vision for the future of the new Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Finally, Mary Alice Evans, Director of the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, and Harrison Rue, TOD Program Manager, discussed the potential of the current OCCC site for transit-oriented development.
"We saw deplorable conditions in our jail and prison - everything from overcrowding and lack of lighting, to a leaking roof and damaged floors," says Senator Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and Intergovernmental Military Affairs, "Both facilities have glaring deficiencies, covered by decades of band aids. Ignoring the situation could lead to the Feds mandating upgrades and the costs to taxpayers will skyrocket."
"We plan to refocus and shift from what some may see as a punitive incarceration model to a model focused on treatment, education, and successful re-entry via wrap-around services”, says Tommy Johnson, Director of the Department of Public Safety. "It is critical to establish diversions at the front of pipelines to prison to reduce the burden on our enforcement and correctional facilities."
The Senate has supported various initiatives that disrupt pathways to prison and reduce recidivism, including the statewide expansion of Alternative Learning Programs within the Department of Education, the establishment of the Office of Wellness and Resilience, and the continuation of the Ohana Zones Program.
"Our visit to OCCC, confirmed that the Senate’s $10 million allocation of funds in Fiscal Year 2025 for the relocation of the facility to a new site in Halawa Valley is a prudent one and will get this project moving," says Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means. "Overcrowding, aging facilities and outdated security infrastructure at OCCC are putting inmates and our public safety personnel at risk, and we need to move with urgency to get a new and modern facility built. We are encouraged to know that under Director Tommy Johnson’s leadership, he is working closely with the Governor, Budget and Finance, Department of Accounting and General Services and the Department of Agriculture to move quickly on putting out a Request for Qualifications so that we can determine financing options that the State can move forward with and get this project underway and built."
For the new OCCC in Halawa, the Environmental Impact Statement was formally accepted in 2018, and the Planning and Review Use permit was approved by the Honolulu City Council in 2020.
Next steps include issuing the Request for Qualifications, which is awaiting approval by Director Salaveria. This is a necessary step to inform future legislative requests and the issuance of the Request for Proposals.
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