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Hawaii governor requests $4.3 million to continue housing inmates in Arizona

Saguaro Correctional Center
Posted at 11:54 AM, Mar 25, 2019

HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. David Ige's administration has requested an additional $4.3 million to continue housing inmates on the mainland as security systems are upgraded at a state prison.

The latest funding request would bring the cost to $18.7 million for incarcerating prisoners at the privately-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy while work continues at the Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The cost of housing inmates out of state would exceed the more than $12.3 million project to replace locks, video surveillance systems and other electronics at the prison. The prison has kept a housing module vacant since 2016 to allow for construction, leading to hundreds of inmates being sent to Arizona.

The project was initially planned to be completed in 2017 with an initial price tag of $9.75 million, according to the state Department of Accounting and General Services.

State Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda told lawmakers in January that the prison job was originally expected to be completed in 11 months, but work started six months late.

The project then became delayed after a subcontractor did "substandard work, and so they were terminated off the job," said Curt Otaguro, state comptroller. The new subcontractor discovered that recently installed electrical conduit did not meet state standards, requiring the work to be redone, he said.

Work has been completed in two of the prison's four housing modules and in other areas, like the administration offices and guard towers, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Construction is underway on the third housing module, and work on the last module is expected to wrap up in November, Otaguro said. The contractor has been "very cooperative" in fixing the problems and paying the associated costs, he said.