Source: Rui Kaneya, Honolulu Civil Beat, May 18, 2016
It was Aug. 7, and the department had learned that a 21-year-old prisoner from Maui turned up dead in his cell at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona prison where about 1,400 Hawaii inmates are housed. In a brief statement, the department passed on some scant details: The prisoner, Jonathan Namauleg, was found “unconscious and face-down” on the floor by his cellmate. Rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. … But the department has yet to even acknowledge any of the developments. In fact, for more than nine months, it hasn’t released a single follow-up statement — or the results of its investigation into Namauleg’s death. In many ways, the episode is a perfect illustration of the department’s attitude toward transparency: When it comes to troubling news out of Saguaro, it prefers to stay tight-lipped. …
… Five years before Naumaleg’s death, the murders of two other Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sparked concerted efforts to improve oversight and bring transparency to the state’s mainland prison operation. But no one in a position to impose accountability, then or now, has meaningfully done so — not the governor, not legislators, not the Department of Public Safety. Critics say the continuing lack of transparency makes it virtually impossible to assess how well the department monitors the performance of the state’s contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, despite a long history of problems. … Howard Komori, acting administrator of the Mainland and Federal Detention Center Branch, which oversees the state’s contracts with CCA, declined to comment for this story. For his part, state Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, says he sees little choice but to keep faith with the department’s monitoring efforts — unless, he says, “someone tells me there’s a massive cover-up and corruption in the mainland branch.” …
Experts: Act Now To Improve The Contract With An Arizona Prison
Source: Rui Kaneya, Honolulu Civil Beat, May 2, 2016
Hawaii has little choice but to ink the contract with CCA, despite a history of problems at the company’s Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona — including the murders of three Hawaii prisoners and other legal troubles. But some experts caution against rushing into the deal. Instead, they say, the state should take this golden opportunity to negotiate for new conditions — not only to better guard against contract violations, but also to guarantee the safety of prisoners. …
… To be sure, the state’s current contract, signed in 2011, isn’t entirely toothless. For one thing, the state managed to avoid one common misstep: agreeing to have occupancy guarantees built into the contract — in the form of either a minimum quota of prisoners or a payment of monetary penalties for empty prison cells. This means that the state only pays CCA a per-diem rate — currently at $70.49 — for each of about 1,400 prisoners who are actually housed at Saguaro, instead of covering for 80 percent or more of the prison’s cell space, as commonly dictated under occupancy guarantees. … But it is clear from Civil Beat’s interviews with a number of experts, as well as prison-reform advocates, that the contract has plenty of room for improvement. One area in particular was singled out by many: It’s important to have a strong provision for “liquidated damages” that lays out monetary penalties, should CCA fail to abide by the contract. Isaacs said the provision comes in handy in deterring understaffing — something that for-profit prison companies are prone to do, she said. …
Prison Officials Quietly Move To Extend An Out-Of-State Contract
Source: Rui Kaneya, Honolulu Civil Beat, April 25, 2016
Hawaii’s practice of outsourcing prison operations won’t be ending anytime soon. Without much publicity, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety is moving to award a new contract worth tens of millions of dollars to continue housing the state’s excess prisoners on the mainland. And the state’s current contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, appears to have an inside track — despite a long history of problems, including the murders of at least three prisoners at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona facility where about 1,400 Hawaii inmates are housed. … The resulting contract, which takes effect July 1, would allow Hawaii’s longstanding mainland prison operation — first begun in 1995 as a “short-term solution to chronic overcrowding” — to remain in place for at least three more years, with options for two one-year extensions. Under the state’s current contract, the state pays CCA a daily rate of $70.49 per prisoner — an arrangement that amounted to more than $30 million in fiscal year 2015. … CCA has also invested heavily in lobbying in Hawaii. According to the latest filings with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, it was among the state’s top lobbying companies in January and February, retaining six lobbyists and spending $21,624 during that period. And the terms of the request for proposals look tailor-made for CCA: As a minimum requirement, vendors must have a facility capable of handling at least 1,800 prisoners within 100 miles of a major airport — with direct flights from Honolulu. CCA has a number of facilities in its portfolio that can satisfy the requirement — including Saguaro, a 1,926-bed facility in Eloy, Arizona, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Hawaii set to move mainland inmates to Arizona prisons
Source: Associated Press(HI), Jul. 8, 2006 12:00 AM
HONOLULU – Hawaii’s inmates housed on the mainland will be consolidated into two prisons in Arizona under newly signed contracts with a private prisons company. The state will send more than 2,500 inmates to the prisons run by Corrections Corp. of America at a cost of more than $50 million a year.