BY BOB MARX – Hawaii needs to end the outsourcing of Hawai‘i’s prisoners to private, mainland prisons.
Currently, the State of Hawai‘i houses 1,738 convicted prisoners in mainland, privately operated prisons in Arizona–not counting the more than 200 female prisoners who were removed from a privately-run Kentucky prison. These women were removed to protect them from physical and sexual assault.
The State of Hawai‘i has recently unveiled a plan to return all prisoners from out of state private prisons to facilities in Hawai‘i. The initial cost of housing an inmate in Hawai‘i is greater: $128.00 per day versus $76.18 per day. The cost savings was initially thought to be worthwhile. However, when taking into account the detrimental effects of being separated from family and cultural support, the increased recidivism rates near 90%.
Bringing back Hawai‘i’s prisoners will initially cost more due to construction costs of new facilities on Maui and the Big Island, and re-opening of the closed facility at Kulani. In addition, we need to expand the Wahiawa Correctional facility on Oahu.
The long-term savings are estimated at $9.8 Million for fiscal 2013, $19.5 million in 2014 and $26.5 million in 2015. The cost savings does not take into account the value added effect of Hawai‘i tax dollars being spent in the local economy for staffing and operating the facilities. The short-term job creation for the construction phase of the new facilities will create an immediate economic boost.
I will support efforts to bring federal matching funds to Hawai‘i. Then we can build the required facilities, and ensure matching federal educational funding of programs for prisoners. With an education they are more likely to get a job and less likely to return to prison. The best public dollar spent is invested in education.
Bob Marx is a Democratic Candidate for Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District.