Bill to ban sending Hawaii prisoners out of state and to AZ prisons quashed

Bill to ban sending Hawaii prisoners out of state and to AZ prisons quashed
pic of jail cell (Source: KAIT-TV)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - House Bill 424, proposed last week to stop Hawaii from sending inmates out of state to make more room for other prisoners was quashed by legislature.

Hawaii has been sending inmates to Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Center detention facility for decades. According to a legislative task force report, it costs $82.61 a day to house an inmate at Saguaro, whereas in Hawaii, it costs $182 per day.

There are currently 1,459 prisoners at Saguaro Correctional Center, which accounts for 35 percent of Arizona’s total prison population. From 1978 to 2016, Hawaii’s prison population grew 53 percent. About 43 percent of people taken into custody are homeless. 10 to 12 percent are mentally ill and 90 percent are drug addicts. Many who have been charged with minor crimes could not make bail.

Hawaii is known to have overcrowded prisons and officials have been working to free up as much space as they could in an effort to improve existing facilities and properly accommodate all inmates.

House Bill 1177 was approved unanimously by the House public safety committee on Friday. The bill proposed Hawaii buy the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu for $170 million to house state prisoners.

The Hawaii governor, David Ige, supports expanding and remodeling detention centers on neighboring islands, including the woman’s jail in Kailua.

Even though it’s cheaper to house inmates in other states like Arizona, prisoners are being sent far away from their families and friends, making it harder to maintain their ties with people they might need help from after completing their sentence. As a result, felons are more likely to re-commit crimes and their children (if any) become at risk of social problems and eventual incarceration.

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