Tag Archives: Hawaii

The Prison Visit That Cost My Family $2,370

Source: Eli Hager & Rui Kaneya, The Marshall Project, April 12, 2016

After decades of tough-on-crime policies, Hawaii is one of four states that solve their prison crowding problem by shipping inmates out of state, usually to facilities run by for-profit companies such as Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. California prisoners go to Arizona and to the Mississippi Delta; Vermont prisoners go to a remote corner of Michigan; and Arkansas prisoners go to Texas. The U.S. Virgin Islands also sends its prisoners away, to Florida, Arizona and Virginia. … In all, more than 7,200 state prisoners across the nation are housed this way. That number may rise if Washington state follows through on a contract to send its overflow inmates to a GEO facility in Michigan or if North Dakota sends inmates to a CCA facility in Colorado, which the corrections director there has said is a possibility within the next few months. … Hawaii first began sending prisoners en masse to mainland prisons in 1995, when it secured beds in a privately run Texas facility. Over the years, Hawaii expanded the practice, shipping thousands of prisoners to 14 facilities across eight states.Today, under a $30-million-a-year contract with CCA, the state sends all its overflow prisoners to Saguaro, which was opened just for Hawaii in 2007 …

Hawaii pays CCA about $70 a day to house each inmate at Saguaro, compared with an average of $140 a day for an inmate at any of the four prisons back home. In Vermont, an out-of-state prison bed costs about $62 per day; in-state, the price tag is $162. For the U.S. Virgin islands, the choice is between as little as $67 on the mainland, versus $150 on the islands. (California’s complicated budget picture makes it more difficult to make a similar comparison.) … CCA is paid up to about $185 million per year by California and Hawaii for out-of-state space, and GEO gets as much as about $15 million a year from Vermont to house prisoners in Michigan. Arkansas spends up to $4.75 million a year for LaSalle Southwest Corrections to operate the jail in Bowie County, Texas, where its overflow inmates are kept.

Prisons officials seek private partnership for new jail

Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, January 28, 2016

State prisons officials said the $489 million cost of building a new jail on Oahu could be reduced significantly and constructed more quickly under a public-private partnership that’s exempt from certain environmental requirements. … The Ige administration is asking lawmakers to approve borrowing $489 million to replace Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi with a new jail at a new location: the grounds of Halawa prison. OCCC, the state’s largest jail, is where detainees await trial and inmates serve terms up to one year. It’s currently at 125 percent capacity and its facilities are antiquated. That means some cells regularly house three inmates, with one of them sleeping on the floor. …

Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better for Government Purchasing

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, January 2016

Many states and cities get hung up on low prices and fail to consider a company’s performance when deciding whether to contract with them. …. That’s like buying the cheapest used car on an auto dealer’s lot, without checking out the condition of the motor. ….

….. The San Francisco administrative code, for example, doesn’t require its six departments that contract out for construction to evaluate past performance when considering bids. Some departments do so, but inconsistently. This still goes on despite a 2014 survey conducted by the city services auditor in which 90 percent of construction employees agreed that departments should be required to conduct evaluations and use them in the bid-award process. “Continuing to award contracts to poor performers,” the audit warned, “negatively impacts the city and its resources in the form of project delays, abandoned projects, substandard work, and, at times, claims and litigation.”…

…..Digging a bit deeper into the fine print, most cities and states use the word “responsible” to describe the type of bidder with whom they’ll consider doing business. But whether or not past performance is taken into account is often contingent on how one interprets what “responsible” means: Does it include information about prior experiences or not?

A 2015 report by the Hawaii State Procurement Office, which noted that bidders must be “responsible,” found that the state’s 21 chief procurement officers had different definitions for what the word meant…..

State seeks to collect millions of dollars in fees from overdue library books

Source: Brent Ramadna, KHON, November 19, 2015

But a lot of people have been keeping the books, leading to a large amount of late fees. “I think the last time we checked it was $3.2 million,” said Keith Fujio with the State Public Library System. A staggering amount, considering the late fee for an overdue book is 25 cents each day. … Each week, they send about 400 notices to collection agencies. Library officials are also looking to pay more than $96,000 to a company that will send electronic notifications and postcards notifying people when they are delinquent.

Law Enforcement Investigations and Actions Regarding For-Profit Colleges

Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, Updated October 9, 2015

This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense.  It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards.  It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.

Settlement with union over private-sector contracts could cost millions

Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 19, 2015

McCartney said the state is reviewing at least 506 contracts across 12 state departments, which hire private workers to do everything from highway groundskeeping to air conditioning maintenance, as it decides how many of those jobs will be handled by state workers instead. … The private contracts that could end and be replaced by state employees in the next few years are for work such as janitorial, plumbing, tree trimming, auto repair, painting, carpentry and electrical. … The state’s decision to transition at least 99 of the 506 contracts currently filled by private workers means departments will have to ask lawmakers for money to fund the positions. The state will also need to recruit and hire people for those new jobs. Most of the affected jobs are blue-collar positions represented by UPW, which as of last year represented about 4,959 blue collar state employees, nearly 10 percent of the state government workforce.

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Taxpayers will pay more as state phases out some private contractors
Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 6, 2015

The state is phasing out the use of private contractors for highway landscaping and other maintenance work, costing taxpayers more money and settling two long-time class-action grievances filed by one of the state’s most powerful unions, the United Public Workers. Across Hawaii, landscape workers who are employed by private contractors do routine maintenance of state highway medians and shoulders. The UPW alleged the state unlawfully privatized services that were historically performed by state workers who were unionized employees. … The settlement means state departments will have to create new jobs such as groundskeepers and taxpayers will pay their salaries along with health and retirement benefits.  Mulkern said state workers are not as productive as private sector employees, mostly because they have far more annual vacation days (21), holidays (13; 14 in election years) and sick days (21) compared to the private sector. … It’s unclear how many new state jobs will be created but they range from groundskeepers statewide who clean and trim the grass along highways to those who perform air conditioning maintenance.  The state could not provide an estimate of how many contracts are affected, how many new state positions might need to be created and how much money that could cost taxpayers.

UH medical school to lose private security guards as homeless concerns rise

Source: Catherine Cruz, KITV, August 12, 2015

Adding to the concerns, a law that allowed the John A. Burns Medical School and Cancer Center to hire private security for the last seven years expired in June. But the state doesn’t have enough guards to take over immediately. It will need at least a dozen to staff the high-security 24-7 Biolabs and the other campus buildings. However, the school says that’s still three to five guards short of what it is used to. … It’s not clear at this point how long it will take before the security services are completely taken over by state workers. Lim plans to meet with the new security team Thursday to talk over their concerns during this transition period.

North Shore residents want parks privatized to maintain filthy beach bathrooms

Source: Chelsea Davis, Hawaii News Now, Jul 29, 2015

Some North Shore Oahu residents are fed up with filthy beach park bathrooms. They say the city isn’t doing its job so they want someone else to do it for them. “I don’t think this is what we want here on the north shore to show our tourists and our families who live here,” said North Shore resident Jack Reid. Reid is talking about the Haleiwa Beach Park bathroom where a toilet doesn’t work, some doors won’t lock, and the floors are rusted. … Nekota says privatization of the parks isn’t realistic. She says one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to maintain is because of short staffing. In February of this year Hawaii News Now counted 52 vacant positions in the Department of Parks and Recreation. Thirty-five of those positions were for grounds keepers. Nekota says most of those positions have been filled…

When Freedom Isn’t Free

Source: Alysia Santo, Washington Monthly, March/April/May 2015

ALEC and the bail bond industry have a new plan to empty prisons—for a price…. Bail is an essential lubricant of American justice, asserted Nicholas Wachinski, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, a trade group for insurance companies that underwrite bail bonds. But now bail agents are under siege by so-called reformers, who argue that the traditional bail system forces poor defendants to choose between paying fees they can’t afford and sitting in jail until they go to trial. A growing number of states—New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Hawaii, and others—are limiting the use of bail for defendants who don’t pose a threat, or replacing for-profit bail with government supervision. Of course, Wachinski said, the bail bond industry will continue its tireless lobbying to protect its lucrative franchise, but he was there with another message: Innovation! New products! New markets! “A brave new world!” Why should bail bonds be only for defendants who are awaiting trial? How about bail bonds for a whole new class of customers: people who have already been convicted…. Mississippi has been a kind of laboratory for bail industry experiments. The state is the country’s poorest and has the third-highest per-capita incarceration rate. The Mississippi Bail Agents Association exercises strong legislative influence, boasting on its website that “[s]ince 1992, there have only been two years in which the MBAA did not succeed at making changes to the state bail statutes.” The bail industry has given more in campaign contributions per capita to state politicians in Mississippi than anywhere else. Versions of post-conviction bail legislation have also passed in South Dakota and Michigan, a victory celebrated by bail agents but not yet put into widespread practice….

Room service hospital meals help Kaiser Permanente Hawaii save $1.5M a year

Source: Matt Tuohy, Pacific Business News, August 20, 2014

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Moanalua Medical Center has been saving about $1.5 million a year in food costs by bringing meal preparation in-house and allowing patients to choose when and what they want to eat as the first hospital in Hawaii to offer a room-service menu. The hospital, which until two years ago outsourced meal preparation to Aramark, changed its policy on food, along with other Kaiser hospitals across the country, to make sure patients got the food they wanted, when they wanted it.
The end result was a new kitchen and staff that take orders over the phone and prepare the meals as they’re needed. The hospital now spends about $1.1 million per year operating the kitchen, with about 18 full-time employees who take down orders from patients in a separate room and hand them off to the cooks who put the food together in an assembly line fashion. …